As July is right around the corner, many Vietnamese families across the country are starting to make preparations for the Vu Lan festival. It is also known as Wandering Soul’s Day, Ghost Holiday, and Mother’s Day.
With foreign travelers who want to understand about Vietnam culture, this will be an excited experience. And among tours in Vietnam this time, in most of places they travel, they can feel the special air of the Vu Lan festival coming up.
Although the Vu Lan festival is a very important one in a year, not all Vietnamese people know about the meaning of this festival. Around the meaning of this festival, there have a very excited story.
The Vu Lan festival is closely to an old tale which has been passed down from generation to generation. The story revolves around Muc Lien Lien, one of the Buddha’s ten principle disciples. One day while meditating he saw his late mother enduring agonies and tortures as a result of the evil deeds she had committed when she was alive.
She was starving, so Muc Lien Lien summoned al his spiritual powers to make a bowl of rice. Unfortunately, it burnt to ash. Upon his return to the physical world, he askes the Buddha for his help. The Buddha agreed to help him and advised him to round up a group of monks and devotees to pray. Eventually their collective power released Muc Lien Lien’s mother and many other souls as well.
Since then the Vu Lan festival has been held annually on the 15th day of the seventh lunal month in honor of mothers.
On this day pagodas all over the country are swamped with Buddhists monks, nuns and devotees. They attend ceremonies and offer incense to the Buddha, hoping to wash away their sin, and they pray for their deceased relatives and living descendants.
In addition, families offer votive papers, flowers, fruit, salt, sticky rice cakes, boiled cassava, sweet potatoes and many other things to their ancestors in the belief that their ancestors will hear their prayers and accept their offerings.
However, the way people celebrate the Vu Lan festival today is slightly different than the way people did many years ago. Low-income households prepare an assortment of food, incense, joss paper, and fake gold and bank notes, while those with more money might spend millions of dong on paper villas, luxury cars, electric fans, and air conditioners, hoping that their deceased relatives will enjoy in the afterlife the same creature comforts that the living do.