Westerners have Mothers’ Day to be proud of, the Vietnamese treasure their seventh full moon of lunar calendar (“Mua Vu Lan”) as a time to express filial piety to their parents, especially their gratefulness and appreciation to their mother.
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.
“Mua Vu Lan” is closely connected to the Asian tradition of ancestor worship and filial piety. It is also known as the Buddhist holiday, a traditional event in praise of motherly love held solemnly once a year in Vietnam.
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.
One more tradition of this day is for people – Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike – who wish to express their gratefulness and appreciation towards their mothers, to go to a pagoda, often wearing a rose. Thousands of people flock to pagodas wearing red roses if their parents are alive or white roses if their parents have passed away. The rose has been a symbol of love and sharing among parents and their children regardless of social background.