From the last day of the sixth moon to the last night of the seventh, the gates of hell open up and allow the ghosts of the deceased to roam the earth.
The Chinese celebrate two festivals of the dead: The first takes place in the spring and is called Ching Ming - a day for reflection and rememberance of the recent and still-remembered but ancestrally departed. The second - and darker of the two festivals - is called Da Jui by the Chinese and Urabon or Obon by the Japanese.
In its native country of India, the Sanskrit word for this event is Ullambana literally translating to "Hanging upside down" - referring to the fact that this would cause anyone great discomfort. A more semantic translation is "The Festival of Deliverance". It also coincides with the Taoists' Chung Yuan or Ghost Festival. Those who celebrate it believe that on this day, the ruler of the Earthly kingdom forgives all the sins of mankind.
The story begins with Moggallana - a disciple of Sakyamuni - who through his supernatural powers was able to look into Hades where he discovered his mother writhing in eternal agony. She had become a Hungry Ghost and cast into hell - forever craving food but unable to consume it.
Moggallana descended into Hell and upon seeing his mother in pain, he was overcome with pity. His attempts to feed her were vain for no sooner the food touched her mouth, it would erupt into flames and turn to smoldering ashes.
Moggallana's sympathy for his mother compelled him to ask Buddha what he needed to do in order to release his mother from her acursed bindings. Buddha said to him that her sins were too much for one man to atone; he must seek out the help of ten priests. Through the collective prayer of the 10 priests, Moggallana was able to liberate his mother. Thus Ullambana is a celebration of the deceased (the hungry ghosts), but also reasserts the value of filial allegiance.
During this seventh month the ghosts of the dead are released from hell and allowed to walk among the living. Most are benign but others are malicious and seek to harm the living. These are the vengeful ghosts of people who have no living relatives to offer food or pray on their behalf; ghosts of people who die tragically in car accidents, by drowning or suicide. Their souls unfulfilled, they seek others to take their place in Hell. People try to be more cautious during this month, especially on the 15th day when it's advisable to stay indoors. Especially dangerous are riverbanks where a malevolent spirit might easily snatch the soul of an unwary passerby.
Ghosts are most active by night: Sometimes invisible, sometimes gossamer and wispy apparitions. Often they will also manifest as animals to go about their business undetected - a snake slithering quietly, a moth hovering silently around a flame... birds, foxes, wolves and tigers watching from the shadows. Other times, they will appear as men and women, just as they did in life. But those keen of eye will notice that the feet of a Chinese ghost never touch the ground.
They have been known to enter the body of the living and cause disease and mental disorders.
To placate these angry sprits, offerings of fruit, moon-cakes and joss sticks (incense) are made outside the house. Where the water meets land, paper lanterns are lit and set adrift to lead the evil ghosts to think those the hearths houses and away from homes and people. Fake money called "Hell Money" is burnt to 'buy' off the ghost's sympathy. Paper houses, cars, planes and other effigies are burned on behalf of those departed. Large feasts are prepared at temples and operas play while the spirits 'dine' on their offerings.
In some places, salvation poles are laid down to guide the spirits of the dead and concentrate them where they will do the least harm. The taller the structure the more likely to catch the attention of the ghosts.
Salvation lanterns are also placed outside dwellings and entrances to the village. These are lit at midnight and extinguished the next morning throughout the celebration. Often one will find an inscription inside: "Let Light Illuminate The Underworld".
On the last day of the 7th month, a Taoist priest recites the liturgy while holding a "Seven Star Sword" to let the ghosts know that it's time to return to the underworld. When the gates of hell are closed, the priest cups his ears to avoid the deafening lamenting cries of the ghosts returning to the darkness.
In this video, I share my reflections (ALERT: SOME RAW EMOTIONS) on Ullambana Festival, a brief recount of my family's journey to Australia, and expressing my appreciation to Phuoc Hue Temple for giving my sister and me the chance to co-host an important ceremony.
For more information on Ullambana Festival, visit:
Fresh Fallen Snow
A Quiet Thought
- Free YouTube Music Library
Lòng Mẹ 2 - Sáo Trúc Demo
(Track: Mother's Love 2 | Composer: Ngoc Son)
- Đinh Hồng Sơn YouTube channel
[1:05] Picture of Vietnamese Refugee Boat: https://reporter.anu.edu.au/word-watc...
[1:16] Palm Trees: http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-f...
[1:30] Picture of Vietnamese Refugee Boat:
[1:34] Picture of Australia: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/w...
[3:18] Bus: https://www.liverpoolcha
Cha chúng tôi (Our Fathers)
Cha chúng tôi rất nhọc nhằn
Tay luôn làm lụng, tâm hằng lo toan
Tạo cho cuộc sống chu toàn
Chúng tôi được hưởng bình an vô cùng.
Dù Đông buốt giá lạnh lùng,
Dù Hè nóng nực oi nồng cháy da
Cha làm việc, chẳng nói ra
Âm thầm chịu đựng để mà nuôi con.
The Buddhist community is extremely upset by the inappropriate and disrespectful use of the image of Buddha, The Buddhist community is extremely upset by the inappropriate and disrespectful use of the image of Buddha, in a display at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) entitled the 'Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana, the Dying Gaul, Farnese Hercules, Night, Day, Sartyr and Bacchante, Funerary Genius, Achilles, Persian Soldier Fighting, Dancing Faun, Crouching Aphrodite, Narcisse Couché, Othryades the Spartan Dying, the Fall of Icarus, A River, Milo of Croton'. It can also be seen at: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/131149/
Although this display has been in place for some months, we have only just been made aware of its' existence. We are not usually outspoken, but this display desecrates the image of Buddha by placing images of these mythical images on him and in doing so, showing no apparent regard or respect for Him.
The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism
By Sutra Translation Committee of USA/Canada
This is a revised and expanded edition of The Seeker's Glossary of Buddhism. The text is a compendium of excerpts and quotations from some 350 works by monks, nuns, professors, scholars and other laypersons from nine different countries, in their own words or in translation. The editors have merely organized the material, adding a few connecting thoughts of their own for ease in reading.
They burn giant-sized joss sticks and paper money. They slaughter animals. They stage street operas. They say this is Buddhism. How misleading they are! Putting aside all the malpractices, the Ullambana celebration has its origin in Buddhism. Ullambana Sutra is a discourse given by the Buddha principally to the Venerable Mogallana on the practice of filial piety.
Ullambana is a transliteration of the Sanskrit word meaning "deliverance from suffering," and specifically refers to the salvation of anguished souls in Hell. This concept originates from the story of "Mulien Saving His Mother from Hades."
Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường, nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.
May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland, Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below, may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma, the Land of Ultimate Bliss.