Vietnam Ghost Month
We have entered 2 weeks ago the Ghost Month (“Tháng Cô Hồn” = month of the lonely spirits) in Vietnam, which is the seventh month of the lunar calendar.
It is believed to be a haunted and unlucky month.
Legend says that on the first day of this month, the gate of hell gets wide open and that the ghosts and spirits are set free to visit their living friends and relatives until the last day of the month.
Worshipping the dead, showing them gratitude, making offerings of food & money and burning incense is very popular, especially on the first, second, fifteenth and last day of the ghost Month.
By doing so, people feed and appease the condemned souls wandering out of hell during this month. If you disappoint your ancestors this month, bad luck may happen to you.
While souls that have family will be well fed, Cô hồn (= homeless/lonely souls) will be hungry, poor and unhappy because they do not get any respect nor food from their family. For that reason, everybody on this month will do “cúng chúng sinh” (offerings) and support those homeless souls.
Lots of fires will be set, to burn votive papers and make offerings in the pagodas and on the streets, especially on the 15th of August (Ghost festival) and before the doors of hell close again at the end of the month. On that same day, yesterday, occurs Vu Lan festival. This buddhist festival is to express gratitude and appreciation towards ones’ parents and especially mothers, and also help ancestors’ lost souls find their way back to earth.
On this day, pagodas and temples are very busy with people worshipping ghosts and hungry spirits through offerings of food, clothes and other items, and releasing animals like birds or fish. It is the occasion as well for children to give presents and flowers to their parents to show their gratitude & appreciation.
Young people do not really believe or follow the Ghost month beliefs, but traditions still persist for the old ones. On that month they do not plan anything serious such as making a business decision, travelling or moving house, as angry spirits can hurt them.
If you want to see celebrations of the ghost month & Vu Lan festivities, you can join our interactive adventure and visit Cholon’s temples, that’s one of the busiest time of the year after TET.