During this festival, offerings are made to the spirits of the dead and to the hungry ghosts in order to bring good fortune and luck. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Ullambana is a festival of liberation, which advocates and reinforces the concept of filial piety.
Ullambana, or the Ghost Festival, is the most popular Buddhist festival. On this day, it is believed that the "Gates of the Hell" are opened and the dead souls visit their loved ones. During this festival, offerings are made to the spirits of the dead and to the hungry ghosts in order to bring good fortune and luck.
It is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Ullambana is a festival of liberation, which advocates and reinforces the concept of filial piety. The word ‘Ullambana' is a transliteration of the Sanskrit word meaning ‘deliverance from suffering', and specifically refers to the salvation that is granted to tormented souls in hell. On this day, Buddhists offer prayers both to their departed forefathers and to their living parents and elders.
The Story of the Festival Goes
The story of the festival dates back to the time of the Buddha. Maudgalyayana, a disciple of the Buddha, meditated and much to his misery, found that his mother was suffering a great in hell. He sought the Buddha's advice in this matter since he wanted his mother to get rid of all the sufferings. The Buddha advised him to offer food to the dead. This proved fruitful as Maudgalyayana succeeded not only in relieving his mother but also a number of other souls. On successful completion of his work, Maudgalyayana was elated and danced with joy.
To commemorate the incident, the festival of the Ullambana or Ancestors day is celebrated. It is time to honour one's ancestors and also relieve the suffering of souls.
The name Ullambana is a Sanskrit term and itself means "hanging upside down and suffering."
The Festival Itself
The first day of the festival is considered the one when the Gates of Hell open and the ghosts are permitted to visit the earth for the next fifteen days. The fifteenth day is the Ancestors Day and has the families visiting cemeteries to pay respect to their ancestors. People also make food offerings to the wandering spirit during this festival.
Buddhist Mother’s day:
The Ullambana day is also equivalent to the Western Mother’s day, on which Buddhists around the world pay tribute to their parents. The ceremony varies temple by temple and is often started with the chanting of the Ullambana Sutra. During the ceremony, roses will be given out. Those, who still have both parents, will wear a red rose on the left of their shirts. Those, whose either mother or father has deceased, will wear a pink rose; and those, whose both parents have deceased, will wear a white rose. Songs praising the kindness and sacrifices of parents for their children will be played during the giving of the roses.