Some people call it Vu Lan or Vietnamese Mother's Day, others call it Trung Nguyen as it is the day for lost souls to be in the search of mercy-the festival has it all. Under any disguises, this festival takes place on the 15th day of the seventh month in Lunar Calendar.
Being the second largest annual traditional festival of Vietnam right after Tet Holiday, Vu Lan is widely celebrated throughout the country —among businesses, families, and other institutions.
In accordance with Buddhism’s belief, the seventh lunar month is known as the spirit month. On this month’s full moon, wandering souls are believed to return to their former homes.
The legend behind this festival is that once when mediating, a Buddha's disciple named Muc Kien Lien saw that his mother was suffering from hell’s tortures. Following Buddha’s advice, on the seventh full moon of the year, Muc Kien Lien gathered monks and devotees and pray with them for his mother’s relieve. Hence, this festival is to express gratitude and appreciation towards ones’ parents (especially mothers) and also help ancestors’ lost souls find their way back to earth.
On this day, people visit pagodas and temples to worship ghosts and hungry spirits through offerings of food, clothes and other items, and release animals like birds or fish. Apart from that, they give presents and flowers to their parents to show their appreciation and gratitude.
TIME: 7th full moon
PURPOSE: express filial piety, worship wandering spirits
ACTIVITIES: offerings and animal releasing; giving presents to parents