What is Ullambana: The Hungry Ghost Month?
In Chinese culture, commonly known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, the practice of burning extensive offerings made of joss papers to appease hungry ghosts still exists today. Growing up in Chinese communities, the stories where hell gates open and spirits are free to roam on earth are nothing alien to me. I’ll leave the superstitions and taboos to another day.
Contrary to popular belief, Ullambana is certainly not a month of superstition in the Buddhist viewpoint. Rather, Ullambana is a month of merit accumulation, with immense opportunities to practice the dana (generosity) paramita. Less commonly known in Western cultures, Ullambana is celebrated in the 7th month of the lunar calendar with its roots cited in the Ullambana Sutra.
An Auspicious Event in Singapore
On 11 August 2019, over 30 venerables from Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions congregated in the morning at the Ullambana offering event organized by the Singapore Buddhist Youth Network (BYN). Tulku Migmar was invited as one of the guest venerables.
Why Make Offerings?
In his short speech, Tulku-la shared on the importance of monastic sanghas and the benefits of offering to the sanghas. The community of monks and nuns are the bearers of the Buddhadharma. They preserve the Buddhadharma, uphold the Buddhadharma and propagate the Buddhadharma until today. Hence, making offerings to monastic sanghas is one of the most beneficial things to do. It is also mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures that making offerings to the sanghas creates unbelievable merit and good karma. By the virtue of practicing generosity, Tulku-la mentioned that we shall share and dedicate the merits to all beings.
In short, it was an amazing and auspicious Sunday morning well spent with dharma friends and a timely reminder to myself to be diligent and kind.
Written by: Celia (Drolma Tsering)
Special thanks to Sister Regina Lo for the photos and great help!