Like the Europeans, Vietnamese people celebrate Mothers’ Day too. It is the Vu Lan festival on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar.
Once upon a time there was a naughty lady of the name Thanh Ðề. She was without pity toward the poor and above all the beggars. She never gave alms and chased any beggars who showed up at the gate of her house. She did not hesitate to trample on the rice grains picked up by the poor peasants toiling all year long on their land. She made fun at buddhist priests and nuns by trying to disturb their quietness. She blasphemed Buddha, was in contempt of spirits and offered to pagodas foods mixed with meat ingredients.
Despite the advice of her son Mục Kiền Liên who was a bonze of high virtue, she hardly listened to him. At her death, she joined the Kingdom of the Deaths and had to pay for the faults she had committed in the living world: sitting on a nail studded bed, carrying on her head a bucket full of blood, staying hungry and thirsty as any food that was brought to her mouth melted into blood and turned into flame.
When Mục Kiền Liên became enlightened, he could go down to the Kingdom of the Deaths to see his mother. He witnessed the punishments she suffered. He could not do anything to change the course of justice by the heavenly decree nor could he substitute for his mother. He had to go and see Buddha and request grace from the latter. Buddha ordered him to arrange the Vu Lan ceremony on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, during which he could solicit the withdrawing of sentence for his mother with prayers and alms.
Vietnamese Mother day
Upon coming back to earth, really austere and fervent Mục Kiền Liên, when came the day, set up an altar in honor of Buddha while giving alms and ferforming ceremony. In the Kingdom of the Deaths, Thanh Ðề understood the sufferings as she had gone through hunger and thirst. The hardships that she encountered brought her little by little from her naughty nature to the knowledge of remorse.
Mục Kiền Liên’s piety reached the gate of Heaven. The Holy Father reviewed Thanh Ðề’s case, found that she had been able to repent and acqitted her. Muc Kien Lien was allowed to go down to hell to bring his mother back to life. From then on, Thanh Ðề honored Buddha with all her heart, respected buddhist priests, helped the poor. Inspired by this example, pious children according to Vietnamese customs, on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, set up an altar in memory of the dead and give alms to the poor.