The meaning of Vu Lan in Vietnam
The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, or Yu Lan (in Chinese) or Vu Lan (in Vietnamese) is a traditional celebrations originated from Chinese culture and Buddhism. The Ghost Festival is held on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. This year, the festival falls on 27th and 28th August, 2015. Vu Lan has become Vietnamese Mother’s Day. In all pagodas around the country, there are praying ceremonies to ease the souls of false charges, open-door ceremony to forgive the loss souls, souls offering and food giving as alms ceremonies. It is the day that “authorities” in the hell allow the lost souls to rejoin the living world and return to their homes for twenty four hours. Every family prepares a feast, offers votive paper to ancestors and wandering souls who died away from home and having no descendant to care for.
How Huế people pay tribute to Vu Lan
Vu Lan can be implicitly consider as Vietnamese “Mother’s Day”. It is boldly connected to traditions of ancestor worship and filial piety. And in Hue particularly, known as the Buddhist capital, Vu Lan is a great Buddhist festive season, a spiritual event in praise of motherly love held solemnly once a year in Vietnam.
Join our team at TCP Slow Travel Hue on our praying for our mothers. Follow the legend of Muc Kien Lien, his good deeds to save his mother from hell and share a mindful vegetarian lunch.
Curious to know how important Buddhism is to Hue people and the richness of vegetarian food, read this post:
- Peace in mind by eating vegetarian during Hue local food tour
- Từ Hiếu pagoda, final home for the eunuchs of Nguyễn Dynasty
The Legend of Muc Kien Lien
The legend behind the festival dates back to the earliest of Buddhism. One day when he was meditating, Muc Kien Lien, one of the Buddha’s ten principle disciples, saw his late mother suffering the tortures of hell, condemned because of the evil deeds she had committed during her life.
He saw that his mother was starving, but she had nothing to eat but fire. Muc Kien Lien summoned all his spiritual powers to bring her a bowl of rice – but the food was burnt to ash before she could bring it to her mouth.
When he arrived back in the physical world, he asked for the Buddha’s guidance to help his mother and fulfill his duty as a pious son. The Buddha advised him to collect a gathering of monks and devotees and get them to pray together on this day (which this year falls on August 15 in the Western calendar).
The combined prayers proved to be so powerful that they achieved the release not only of Muc Kien Lien’s mother, but also for countless other souls. Ever since, on the festival of Vu Lan – Wandering Soul’s Day- the gates of hell are believed to be thrown open to give the tormented souls 24 hour holiday. (source: http://vietnamtourism.info.vn/)