Lotus Lanterns for Wesak (Buddha Day)

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Wesak, Buddha’s birthday, is celebrated differently in various Asian and predominantly Buddhist countries. Wesak is tracked on the lunisolar calendar, and this year falls on the fifth of May, which is also Korean Children’s Day.

Paper lanterns shaped like lotus flowers are a common component of the incredible lantern festivals on the Buddha’s birthday in Korea, where the holiday is called 석가 탄신일 (Seokga tansinil) “Buddha’s birthday” or sometimes 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal) “The Day When Buddha Came.” You can make a fast, flameless lotus lantern for Wesak to remember the Buddha on his day.

For more Korean crafts for kids, check out the end of this article!
Materials
LED tea lights (the kind with “flames” are available at Target)
3 oz Dixie paper cups
Tissue paper–green for leaves, and pink and orange for petals are traditional colors
Glue and a foam brush for application
Removable adhesive (such as poster tack)

Instructions
1. Take a 3 oz Dixie cup, and cut a small hole in the center of the bottom–just big enough so that the “flame” of your LED tea light will fit through it. (When you are finished making your lantern you will attach the tea light to the inside of the cup, with the “flame” sticking out the bottom.)
2. Cut petals from your colored tissue paper, in elongated teardrop shapes. For the more inner petals (orange) and for the green leaves at the bottom of the lantern, cut teardrop shapes about 2″ tall. For the pink petals–the “main” petals of the lotus flower–cut them about 3″ tall.
3. With the bottom of the cup facing up, brush some glue around the edge of the cup and begin gluing a round of orange petals. (You are working from the innermost petals, at the “top” of the flower, outward–like an artichoke.) For the next round, brush some glue around the cup lower-side down, and affix petals again. Offset them, instead of placing one petal directly atop another.
4. Continue moving downward towards the wider rim of the cup, using pink petals, and finishing with a round or two of green leaves.
5. Using poster tack or removable wall adhesive, stick your tea light to the inside of the cup, so that the LED “flame” pokes out of the top where the orange petals are. You can easily arrange your petals to be more open or closed, depending on how you like the look.

Happy birthday, Buddha!

If you are looking for more Korean crafts, check out these:
Make a sogo
–a “lollipop”-shaped drum often used by children in Korea
Make a traditional Sam Taeguk Fan

Suggested links
Wesak in Sri Lanka
Korean Character Paper Luminaries (not only do you get instructions on a very general pan-Asian luminaria, you get a heated discussion about cultural “appropriation” by prospective adoptive parents)
weak lotus lanterns

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