Ullumbana Festival: A Special Holiday for Parents
Abbot Quang Tho Thich or Thầy Lý (as I always call him), is a good friend and the head monk at Tu An Temple, one of the local Buddhist temple that I frequent with charitable work. This coming weekend is the Ullumbana (Vu Lan) holiday, a special Buddhist holiday that celebrates parents everywhere. I was asked to design a poster to share at local businesses as well as assisting with sound direction for this special festival this Saturday Night.
The rose is very symbolic with this festival. The practice of wearing roses only became popular in Vietnam around 50 years ago after Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, whose mother had passed, wrote an essay to praise mothers in Saigon in 1962 with inspiration in his previous visit to Japan where he was given a white carnation by a Japanese student. When a person attends the Ullambana festival they are given a rose to wear on their shirt by the end of the festival; a red rose symbolize both parents are still alive, a pick rose is for those with one remaining parent, while a white rose means that that person both parents are deceased. 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.
I cannot take credit for the drawing of the "Mother and Baby" in the middle, and I honestly cannot source or know who the original artist was. The only thing I know is that he is of Vietnamese nationality. The drawing is very iconic and have been used many times before for similar events.
During the festival, I will be wearing a red rose as both of my parents are still alive. Coincidentally, the day afterwards is my mom's birthday, so this is a really meaningful event for me.