Every year on July 15th of the lunar calendar, Vu Lan Festival in Vietnam is celebrated. Although this is a Buddhist festival, most people participate. It is held to repay the birth and parenting of the parents.
Legend of Vu Lan festival in Vietnam
This festival is related to Muc Lien – Thanh De legend of Buddhism. Muc Lien (Muc Kien Lien) was born in northern India in about 568 BC and died in about 484 BC. Muc Lien is a big disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha and has much magic. His mother, who had committed many sins, was exiled to hell when she died. One day he used magical power to go to hell to find his mother. He saw his mother, Mrs. Thanh De being in hell and being a hungry demon. He used magic to make rice and gave it to his mother eating. Because of her greedy habit and being hungry for a long time, she used her hand to cover the rice bowl so that other demons did not scramble. The rice suddenly became fire; she could not eat.
With his magic, Muc Lien could not save his mother, so he returned to the human world and asked the Buddha for help. The Buddha told Muc Kien Lien to invite the monks in ten directions for praying to save his mother. His mother was released from the hell. The Buddha advised someone who wanted to help his or her parents of many lives free from the hell also to use this way. Vu Lan Festival stemmed from that.
Activities at Vu Lan festival
On Vu Lan Festival, Vietnamese people go to pagodas to chant prayers and offer offerings to Buddha and monks to ask the help of them. People listen to the lecture about the children‘s duty from monks as well.
Besides, on this occasion homeless alone spirits are also given, cakes, fruit, rice, salt and joss paper.
Some places Buddhists hold to float flower lights down a river so that spirits see the way coming back the other world.
One of the actions that cannot miss on Vu Lan Festival is fastening roses on parents’ jackets. Rosy roses are for alive mothers and white roses are for dead mothers. This work has had in Vietnam for about fifty years. It causes a deep impression on people and has high education result.
Although the Vu Lan Festival happens officially on July 15th, it lasts all July. This period is called Vu Lan season. In the season, people come to Pagodas to chant prayers every day. Many people eat vegetarians for the whole of July. People conduct volunteer work. They give the poor rice, noodles, soy sauce …They also release birds, help them come back to the natural environment. All of those things are to send merit to their parents.
Vu Lan Festival is not only celebrated in Vietnam but also in the countries having Buddhism. It reminds people to remember the birth and parenting of the parents.
Read more about Top 10 traditional festivals in Vietnam