Colorful lanterns celebrate Buddha’s birthday, brighten snowy day

Tue, 03/01/2022 - 8:15am

    There’s a world of difference between a coastal Maine village and the Buddhist temples of South Korea, but on Friday, Feb. 25 the two cultures came together in a lotus lantern-making workshop offered by Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library and held in separate afternoon and evening sessions. The program was sponsored by First National Bank Wealth Management.

    Despite a blizzard which cancelled some group venues, Zoom classes continued as planned. Bethany Schmidt, community technology coordinator for BHML, estimated the afternoon class had around 28 participants with 11 watching as a group from St. Andrews Village and the rest from their homes. The library estimated the evening session had 35 participants.

    The classes are taught by the Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project, a nonprofit Kim Jae Woong founded in 2005 to promote awareness and understanding of Korean history and culture.

    As Younhee Shin, program coordinator for KSCPP, explained in a phone interview, lotus lanterns traditionally commemorate the May 8 birthday of Buddha and are seen throughout Korea.

    “The lotus makes a beautiful flower and is symbolic of Buddha’s compassion and pure mind,” she said. The lantern-making workshops began in 2009 and have continued via Zoom since 2020. They are increasingly popular. The organization hosted 80 classes in 2021. After completing the lanterns, attendees were treated to a video on Korea.

    Those who signed up for the workshop received the materials to make lotus lanterns, including a wire frame, paper petals and leaves and a glue stick. The attendees were taken step-by-step through the placement of first one row of papers and then following rows until the wire frame was covered in a colorful series of “petals.” Shin explained and demonstrated the steps thoroughly and gave ample time for the students to follow her example.

    Abby Manahan, an Alna resident and tech integrator for Boothbay Region Schools participated in Friday afternoon’s Zoom workshop with her 11-year-old son, Kelly. She was told about the program by Kerrin Erhard, the school librarian.

    “I was surprised by the level of preparation and the materials that were provided,” she said. Kelly, a fifth grader at the Center for Teaching and Learning, echoed his mother’s endorsement. “I liked it,” he said. “I didn’t know about Korea before and this had history and a project.”

    Barbara Scorcia, a trustee of the library, also participated in the afternoon session, with her granddaughters Nina Halter, 16, and Maggie Halter, 13. “It was delightful, a fun project to do at home,” Scorcia told the Boothbay Register.

    “We want to thank everyone,” said Barb Marr, supervisor of resident services at St. Andrews. She has additional materials and plans to host another workshop for residents.