A memorial service for Confucius
A ritual specialist takes ancestor tablets at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul on May 11 during a memorial service for Confucius, who died 2,563 years ago. / Korea Times photos by Shim Hyun-chul
By Shim Hyun-chul
“Seokjeon Daeje” meaning grand Confucian ceremony is a traditional rite that pays tribute to Confucius and other ancient sages and scholars.
The event is held every year on Confucius’ birthday on Sept. 28 and the day of his death, May 11, at 234 Confucian temples nationwide to commemorate him and other historical figures from both Korea and China. Confucian philosophy and lessons are thought to be one of the foundations of Korean society over thousands of years. Cohosted by Sungkyunkwan University and the Cultural Heritage Administration, the ceremony was held at the school’s Seoul campus on May 11. Culture Minister Choe Kwang-sik took part in the event, along with some 200,000 worshipers.
The ceremony is characterized by observances of ritual etiquette and order with performances of traditional music and dance such as “Palilmu” based on Confucian ideals.
The ceremony, designated as the nation’s 85th important intangible cultural heritage, is passed down through apprenticeships, lectures and courses given at two institutions.
For the music, traditional instruments are used, which do not exist in other countries. This well-preserved rite is a work of great artistic merit with traditional clothes and a solemn procedure.