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Ullambana Festival in India

Ullambana is a festival primarily celebrated by the Buddhist following the Mahayana tradition. However, a number of Therevada Buddhists (Laos, Cambodia and Thailand), too, celebrate this festival which lasts for around half a month - from first to fifteenth of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. This coincides with the month of July in the Gregorian calendar.

The Story of the Festival Goes
The story of the festival dates back to the time of the Buddha. Maudgalyayana, a disciple of the Buddha, meditated and much to his misery, found that his mother was suffering a great in hell. He sought the Buddha's advice in this matter since he wanted his mother to get rid of all the sufferings. The Buddha advised him to offer food to the dead. This proved fruitful as Maudgalyayana succeeded not only in relieving his mother but also a number of other souls. On successful completion of his work, Maudgalyayana was elated and danced with joy.

To commemorate the incident, the festival of the Ullambana or Ancestors day is celebrated. It is time to honour one's ancestors and also relieve the suffering of souls.

The name Ullambana is a Sanskrit term and itself means "hanging upside down and suffering."

The Festival Itself
The first day of the festival is considered the one when the Gates of Hell open and the ghosts are permitted to visit the earth for the next fifteen days. The fifteenth day is the Ancestors Day and has the families visiting cemeteries to pay respect to their ancestors. People also make food offerings to the wandering spirit during this festival.

Festival Date
13th July


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