Vu Lan Festival – among the most important festivals of Vietnam

The Festival of All Souls, also known as Ullambana or Bon festival in Mahayana Buddhism, is observed on the seventh full moon of the lunar calendar in various Asian countries as a method of remembering the dead. Souls are said to return to their original homes on this day. In Vietnam, it is called the Vu Lan celebration. Following the lunar New Year (Tet) holiday, this is Vietnam's second major annual traditional festival, with Vietnamese people participating in various religious ceremonies and humanitarian activities. The Vu Lan festival is a wonderful and unique event for international visitors who wish to learn about Vietnamese culture, as well as experience and comprehend Vietnamese principles.

The festival's origins may be found in the narrative of Muc Kien Lien, one of the Buddha's ten main pupils. While meditating one day, he realized that his mother had been tortured in hell for her bad crimes in a former life. He mustered all of his spiritual talents to make a bowl of rice for her, but it burned to ash before she could bring it to her mouth. When he returned to the physical world, he sought the Buddha's assistance. The Buddha encouraged him to gather a gathering of monks and devotees to pray for the relief of his mother. Their combined prayers were so powerful that they freed both his mother and countless other souls. Since then, the 15th day of the 7th lunar month has been chosen to honor mothers, and the gates of hell are claimed to be opened to give suffering souls a 24-hour holiday.


In the seventh lunar month in general, and on the Vu Lan day in particular, people pray and make offerings to their ancestors in the hopes that their departed relatives would have the same blissful afterlife as the living. Pagodas across the country are packed with Buddhist monks, nuns, and devotees on this day. They attend ceremonies and present incense to the Buddha in the hopes of atoning for their sins, and they pray for their ancestors who have passed away and those who are still alive. If their moms are alive, they will wear a red rose; if their mothers are deceased, they will wear a white rose. Some people perform a tradition of washing their parents' feet and wearing a white or red rose in honor of their mother. In the UNESCO-listed village of Hoi An, Vietnamese burn little lanterns for their loved ones and leave them afloat on the Hoài River. 


Overall, the purpose of the Vu Lan festival is not only to remember the ancestors and to pray for wandering spirits, but also to remind people to appreciate what they have: their parents, family, and relatives. While the Western world celebrates Mother's Day, the Vietnamese value the vu-lan-festival, as a time to remember and honor their loved ones, both alive and deceased.

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