Origin of Ullambana
Contrary to popular Chinese belief that the 7th lunar month is a period when the gates of hell are thrown open, the Buddhist community observes Ullambana, which falls on the full-moon day of the 7th month, as a day of great joy focusing on two universal virtues: filial love and parental gratitude.
Ullambana originated from one of Buddha’s key disciple Maha Mogallana, who in his deep meditative state saw his late mother reborn as a hungry ghost due to her karmic afflictions. The Buddha advised Maha Mogallana to make offerings to the Sangha members on the full moon day of the 7th lunar month when they came out from their 3-month rain retreat. With this great merit and the power of the Triple Gems, his mother was liberated from her sufferings.
The Buddha exhorted all his disciples to continue to observe this noble practice for the liberation of suffering for their parents as well as the parents of their seven past lives.
Today, Ullambana is widely observed by the Buddhist community with the recitation of Buddhist scriptures and making offerings to the Sangha community, in loving memory of departed ancestors and loved ones. At the same time, it is also important that we remember to show filial piety and gratitude to our parents and elders who are still living, for their kindness and sacrifice in bringing us up.
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