Making news

Buddhist Vu Lan Festival in full swing

The Buddhist Vu Lan Festival is now in full swing, taking place during the middle of the seventh lunar month. These days, crowds of Buddhists and non-religious people flock to pagodas and worship places nationwide to hear talks about parental love and pray for their parents.

The legend behind the Vu Lan Festival dates back to the early days of Buddhism. One of Buddha’s ten best students saw his late mother suffering in the tortures of hell because of the evil deeds she had committed during her life. He asked for Buddha’s guidance and the help of other Buddhist monks to save his mother’s soul.

Vu Lan Festival has also become something like a Vietnamese version of Mother’s Day, when Vietnamese people show their gratitude towards the mothers in their life.

Tran Kim Hanh, 60, Hanoi, attended Vu Lan Festival celebrations to pray for the health of her mother, who is now 98. She said it is the biggest blessing for her because her mother is still with her.

“I hope that all people, particularly the younger generation, spend more time with their parents no matter how busy they are,” Hanh said.

Vietnamese Buddhist followers traditionally believe that when they come together to pray on the occasion, they can bring better health to their living parents, while also saving parents who have passed from being punished in the underworld.

One of the key emblems of the prayer ceremonies are the roses worn on people’s shirts, which  symbolise the love that children have for their parents. Normally, those whose mothers are alive wear red roses. White roses are for those whose mothers have passed. The practice also helps to remind people not to forget their parents.

Nguyen Tien Thanh, a Buddhist follower in Hanoi, wore a red rose on his shirt at a praying ceremony during Vu Lan Festival. 

“My mother passed away, I am supposed to wear a white rose. However, today, I want to wear a red rose because I believe my mother is always there for me. She is alive in my heart,” Thanh said.

The roses and other features of the Vu Lan Festival have particular religious values. They are also symbols of love for parents and families, which either non-religious people or followers of other religions are able to join in celebrating.

With its connection to Vietnam’s tradition of worshipping ancestors, the Vu Lan Festival has become one of the long-lasting charms of local culture.