Why Vietnamese wear red and white roses in the seventh lunar month?

Buddhist temples across Việt Nam are generally crowded in the seventh lunar month  many people gathered to hear talks about parental love.

Many would wear roses on their shirts:

Red roses for those whose mothers are alive.

White roses for those whose mothers have passed away.


People come to Vietnamese temples this month to honor their parents

The practice is a main part of the celebrations of Vu Lan, or Ullambana, a Buddhist festival in the seventh lunar month that is known as the season of filial piety.

During the festival, children try to do good to bring blessings to their parents, either alive or deceased.

The festival peaks on the full moon day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar.


Hundreds of lanterns are lit up during a Vu Lan ceremony at a pagoda in Hà Nam Province in northern Việt Nam on August 22, 2015

Buddhist followers traditionally believe that when they come together to pray for their departed parents, they can atone for their parents’ past mistakes and save them from being punished in the underworld.

The practice of wearing roses only became popular in Việt Nam around 50 years ago after Zen master Thích Nhất Hạnh, whose mother had passed away, wrote an essay to praise mothers in Sài Gòn in 1962 with inspiration in his previous visit to Japan where he was given a white carnation by a Japanese student.


Many children come to the pagoda with their parents and grandparents

Here’s one of the most powerful paragraphs in the essay:

“I was as much an orphan as any other unhappy orphan; we could no longer proudly wear red flowers in our buttonholes.

Those who wear white flowers suffer, and their thoughts cannot avoid returning to their mothers.

They cannot forget that she is no longer there.

Those who wear red flowers are so happy, knowing their mothers are still alive.

They can try to please her before she is gone and it is too late.”

“One red rose for anyone who still has a mother, so you can feel happy.”

Vietnamese songwriter Phạm Thế Mỹ (1930-2009) in 1965-1966 penned a song, which is often played this time of the year, based on Hạnh’s writing.

The lyrics read:

“One red rose for anyone who still has a mother, so you can feel happy.”

The roses and the whole Vu Lan festival have religious values, but they are also symbols of the big love of many Vietnamese for their parents and families.

That’s why even non-religious or followers of other religions can join the celebration.


Nguyễn Thị Phượng, 36, wears a red rose as she pins another rose on the shirt of her 9-year-old son 

These days, instead of going to a pagoda, many people stay at home and pay tribute to their parents on social networks.

Some would change their profile picture on Facebook to a white rose, or send a beautiful white rose to another friend to show empathy.

Several would post photos of them with their late mothers.

“It’s Vu Lan, and I miss you,” one caption read.


Source: Thanh Niên News / VNExpress


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