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Vu Lan Festival in Vietnam- Meaning and Activities

For generations, Vu Lan Festival has always been one of the important holidays in the cultural and spiritual life of Vietnamese people. It not only represents Vietnam's "remember its source when drinking water" morality, but also a day for descendants to pay filial piety to their ancestors, grandparents, and parents. When participating in Vietnam Customized Tours, visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in meaningful activities in this Vu Lan ceremony.

Vu Lan Festival in Vietnam

Time of Vu Lan Festival

Vu Lan festival takes place on the full moon day of the 7th lunar month every year, coinciding with the day of Amnesty for the dead of Asian customs. Vu Lan is a day to repay favors and filial piety to parents and ancestors of both this life and past lives. In 2023, Vu Lan festival falls on Wednesday, August 30 of the solar calendar.

Meaning of Vu Lan Festival

Vu Lan festival is understood as the Feast of Gratitude, is one of the main Buddhist holidays to commemorate and repay the gratitude for the birth and upbringing of parents and ancestors. Vu Lan festival comes from the story of Bodhisattva Muc Kien Lien who saved his mother from the life of a hungry ghost. Therefore, this day is an opportunity for children and grandchildren to do filial acts to express their affection and gratitude to their parents. After thousands of years with its humane meaning, now Vu Lan festival is not only a Buddhist holiday but also a filial ceremony of all Vietnamese people.

Meaning of Vu Lan Festival in Vietnam
(Meaning of Vu Lan Festival in Vietnam)

Today, following the hustle and bustle of life, many people have forgotten their responsibilities and obligations to their elderly parents and disregarded the meaning of Vu Lan Day. Therefore, Vu Lan Festival needs to be maintained and promoted to remind children and grandchildren of their filial piety and duties.

Read more: Top 6 Traditional Festivals in Vietnam Private Tours You Should Not Miss

Activities to do on Vu Lan Festival

Go to the temple to pray for peace for your parents

It is the children's duty to go to the temple to burn incense and pray for peace for their parents and grandparents. For those who are unlucky when their parents and grandparents have passed away, please ask the Buddha to let them rest in peace. Besides, this is also a time for your soul to slow down amidst the chaos of life, learn to be grateful and love people around you more.

Go to the temple to pray for peace for your parents in Vu Lan Festival
(Go to the temple to pray for peace for your parents in Vu Lan Festival)

Participate in the rose-laced ceremony

The ceremony of lacing a rose is usually done on Vu Lan festival at temples. Red rose for those who are lucky and parents and white rose for those whose parents have passed away. This is a beautiful and meaningful ceremony that shows filial piety and reminds us to appreciate time with our parents. Visitors going to Vietnam Private Tours can also participate in this special ritual at the temples.

Participate in the rose-laced ceremony in Vu Lan Festival
(Participate in the rose-laced ceremony in Vu Lan Festival)

Give gifts to loved ones

The season of filial piety is also a time to show love to family members, so choose and give meaningful gifts to grandparents and parents. There is no need for gifts of great material value, but should let the gift recipient feel the giver's affection.

Give gifts to loved ones in Vu Lan Festival
(Give gifts to loved ones in Vu Lan Festival)

With the attention of children and grandchildren, especially when receiving a gift that matches their interests and needs, it will make grandparents or parents happy because of the affection that the members have for each other.

Vegetarian frugal

Vegetarianism is also a custom of Vietnamese people, showing sincerity and reducing killing. Therefore, vegetarianism during Vu Lan Festival is not only good for health but also shows sincerity. You can make your own pure vegetarian dishes for your parents to enjoy from starch, mushrooms, vegetables, ...

Vegetarian frugal in Vu Lan Festival
(Vegetarian frugal in Vu Lan Festival)

Places to participate in Vu Lan festival

These places also organize many meaningful spiritual activities (dropping lanterns, praying for prayers, flower processions,...) for you and your family to participate in. Some sacred and famous temples during the Vu Lan holiday season that you can visit:

Hoang Phap Pagoda (Ho Chi Minh City)

Hoang Phap Pagoda is the most famous temple in Saigon. Not only possessing a beautiful and pure landscape, surrounded by cool nature, but this place is also for those who come to study Buddhism with their hearts and minds. Coming to Hoang Phap Pagoda, you can pray for peace, eat a pure vegetarian meal on Vu Lan day or wait for Sala flowers to fall in the temple grounds in the hope of receiving more blessings.

Vu Lan Festival in Hoang Phap Pagoda (Ho Chi Minh City)
(Vu Lan Festival in Hoang Phap Pagoda (Ho Chi Minh City))

Tran Quoc Pagoda (Hanoi)

Tran Quoc Pagoda is located on a small peninsula northeast of West Lake with a history of 1500 years and is considered the oldest in Hanoi. The temple is considered a sacred Buddhist place in Hanoi capital. During the Vu Lan holiday season of Vietnam Private Tours, the temple attracts a large number of Buddhists and tourists from all over the world to visit and perform ceremonies to express their filial piety to their birth parents. In addition, when coming here, besides paying homage to Buddha, you can also enjoy a little sense of purity with extremely poetic scenery.

Vu Lan Festival in Tran Quoc Pagoda (Hanoi)
(Vu Lan Festival in Tran Quoc Pagoda (Hanoi))

Read more: How to spend one perfect day tour in Hanoi?

Yen Tu (Quang Ninh)

Yen Tu relic complex and scenic spot on Yen Tu mountain is located in Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh. This mountain peak is a complex of many ancient temples, the most famous of which is Dong pagoda at Yen Tu peak with an altitude of 1068m above sea level. Because it is the cradle of Vietnamese Buddhism, Yen Tu mountain has a very private appearance with temples and pagodas as the highlight. To make a pilgrimage to the top of the mountain, visitors have to go through thousands of stone steps with a length of more than 6km, as a proof of their sincerity towards the Buddha land, dispelling and healing temporary worries.

Vu Lan Festival in Yen Tu (Quang Ninh)
(Vu Lan Festival in Yen Tu (Quang Ninh))

Bai Dinh (Ninh Binh)

As one of the largest spiritual tourist sites in Vietnam and the largest temple in Southeast Asia as of 2018, Bai Dinh Pagoda used to be the place to bring Buddha relics from India, owning many famous records such as the largest pagoda in Vietnam, the largest gold-plated bronze Buddha statue in Asia... Plus great tourism potential when located in the Trang An eco-tourism complex. Surely this will be the ideal destination in Vu Lan festival.

Vu Lan Festival in Bai Dinh (Ninh Binh)
(Vu Lan Festival in Bai Dinh (Ninh Binh))

Besides, there are many sacred temples and pagodas that will make visitors feel relaxed and pure such as Truc Lam Zen Monastery in Da Lat, Thien Mu Pagoda (Hue), Tam Chuc Pagoda (Ha Nam), Vinh Trang Pagoda (Ha Nam), Vinh Trang Pagoda (Hue) and Tam Chuc Pagoda (Ha Nam). Tien Giang), Pho Quang Pagoda (Ho Chi Minh City),...

Read more: Top 7 Must-see Royal Tombs in Hue

Vu Lan festival is one of the two biggest festivals of Buddhism, aimed at paying filial piety to parents' birth. Currently, Vu Lan festival is not only a holiday for Buddhists but has become a common spiritual and cultural festival of the society. It has brought the message of gratitude and return as a cultural expression and behavior worthy of human performance. If you plan to go to Vietnam Customized Tours for this big full moon, let Nadova accompany you!

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