THE DAY OF THE DEAD - VU-LAN (or YULAN) FESTIVAL
The most spiritual day of July of the Dead is the 15th. That is the worst as well as the best day of the month. It is the worst day because this is when the Gates of Hell are fully opened. But it is also the best day because this is the day our departed loved ones come for a feast. We also call it Vu-Lan (or Yulan in other eastern cultures).
Vietnamese, especially Buddhists, celebrate Vu-Lan (or Yulan) as our Parents' Day. We don't have Mother's Day or Father's Day. Just Vu-Lan for both of our beloved persons. We go to temples, knee down under the aura of Buddhas, and pray the best for our parents. Before going home, we stop by at the head monk office. There, visitors are given red roses if both their parents are still with them. Pink roses are given to those who only have either their mother or father. And the saddest receive white roses for the loss of both. People also tend to go vegetarian on Vu-Lan because we believe that is the way we can lighten our spirits.
On the other hand, on the same day as Vu-Lan, as mentioned above, Mid-July day is also the day when the Gates of Hell are open most widely, allowing th
e largest number of spirits to pass through. Devil. Innocent. Good. Bad. And they would be causing problems. On that day, we tend not to look at mirrors after sunset so that we would not see spirits reflected in there. We avoid looking at eyes on portraits because spirits hide in paintings, and we don't want to attract them.