Machig Labdon & 2011 Ullumpana (VU LAN) or Mother’s Day Ceremony

According to Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo’s Threads-of-Awakening, Machig Labdron (depicted) lived in Tibet in the 11th and 12th centuries. A mother herself and inspired by the Great Mother, Perfection of Wisdom, she was intelligent, courageous, and illuminated, and the only Tibetan – male or female – to initiate a distinct tradition that spread back into India , the motherland of Buddhism.

Sarah Harding, in Machik’s Complete Explanation: Clarifying the Meaning of Chöd explains that Machig “developed a system, the Mahamudra Chöd, that takes the Buddha’s teachings as a basis and applies them to the immediate experiences of negative mind states and malignant forces. Her unique feminine approach is to invoke and nurture the very ‘demons’ that we fear and hate, transforming those reactive emotions into love.”

Ullumpana (VU Lan) is the annual rememberance Day of Departed parents and Ancestors and offers a way to practice gratitude as taught by the Buddha. During the time of Gotama Buddha, his chief advisor Arahant Moggallana was advised byt he Buddha to offer food and other requisites for monks and nuns who spend their Rains Retreat and transfer merits to Moggallana’s mother who was in the abode of hungry spirits. This noble ceremony evolved over centuries as the remembrance day of parents and ancestors and to show gratitude to living parents and ancestors.

Ullumpana Day is Mother’s Day in the Vietnamese Buddhist tradition; it is being celebrated today Sunday August 7, 2011 at the An Lac Buddhist Study Center in Ventura. Ullumpana (VU Lan) is the annual rememberance Day of Departed parents and Ancestors and offers a way to practice gratitude as taught by the Buddha.

The Le Vu Lan Celebration differs from the western celebration of Mother and Father’s Day which is celebrated on separate occasions a month apart. Buddhist celebrated Parent’s Day by offering prayers to their living parents; fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers as well as their departed relatives on the same day. They honor them with prayers and special attention. It is custom to wear a rose; a white rose pays respect to a departed mother or father and a red rose pays respect to living parents.

Buddhist parishioners believe anyone who performs any good deed accumulates spiritual merit. It is considered an even more pious act when the merits which have been earned are shared with departed relatives. Sharing these merits in this manner will help them to be reborn in more favorable conditions and to alleviate their suffering. Le Vu Lan Celebration is a day when Buddhist are given an opportunity to share their merits.

On July 30, 2010, my mother passed away and on this Sunday last year, ten days later, we held her memorial service. Venerable Sutadhara attended which brought me comfort and calm.

I wanted to attend today’s events at the Buddhist Mission but my own role as a mother myself kept me by my son’s side today.

Here’s the schedule of events at the An Lac Mission located at 901 S. Saticoy Avenue Ventura CA:

10am Dhamma Talks

11:30am Ullumpana (Vu Lan) Ceremony
includes giving of red roses to those with mothers who are still living; if not, white roses are given

12:30 Vegetarian Lunch

followed by entertainment

3pm Closing Ceremony

PS I’m very excited to share with you that Leslie’s wonderful Monday emails, her “Weekly Wake-Up Calls” of art and inspirational Buddhist quotes, will now be featured here on this blog! And after a summer of traveling, I am looking forward to going on Fridays at 8:15 to yoga there once again!

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