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Ullambana Festival
September 1 (in English) and September 2 (in Vietnamese)

The tree draws its strength growing from the earth, drawing water and nutrition from the ground as its sustenance. Nobody came to this world without their parents who devoted their lives towards our growth to maturity. Their love and labor can not be expressed adequately through common language and simple gifts.

~ Thich Nguyen Tang

Our temple held its annual Ullamabana festival on September 1 and 2 this year. Below is an article kindly provided by the Lewistown Sentinel for our event. You can also hear Master Van Dam's Dharma talk from our celebration on our Teachings page.

Monastery to honor ancenstors this fall

By Micaiah Wise
Sentinel Reporter

Yeagertown – This weekend community members will gather to celebrate and remember family members during the festival of Ullambana.

The Buddhist festival will be held today and Sunday at Ananda Buddhist Monastery and Center in Yeagertown.

“It’s like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day all rolled up into one,” said Tim Pollock, who attends the monastery.

Celebrated across the world, the festival is a time to honor family both living and deceased.

Each year on the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month, Buddhists remember Mahamaudgalyayana, a saint who gave offering to free his deceased mother from her suffering as a hungry ghost.

It was only wit the help of other Buddhists that Mahamaudgalyayana freed his mother.

“It also recognizes what good people can do together,” Pollock said, referring to the story.

The monastery will host prayers, meditation, a Dharma talk, chanting, a vegetarian luncheon and Buddhist music in celebration of the days, with the Rev. Thich Van Dam presiding.

After the celebration, people who want to take formal vows in Buddhism may receive the Three Refuges and Five Precepts of lay Buddhism.

Events held Saturday will primarily be in English, while events held Sunday will be primarily in Vietnamese.

People from al backgrounds are welcome to attend the festival, Pollock said.

Origin of Ullambana

Editor’s note: The following story was provided by Tim Pollock and is found in the Ullambana Sutra.

Ullambana was first observed when Buddhist saint Mahamaudgalyayana achieved enlightenment and wished to bestow his blessing upon his departed parents. To his dismay, he discovered that his mother had been reborn as a hungry ghost, doomed to wander the earth in perpetual hunger and desire, because of her past deeds.

A faithful son, Mahamaudgalyayana tried to offer his suffering mother some food. But due to her previous offenses, the food turned into burning coals when she tried to eat it.

Mahamaudgalyayana quickly discovered that, although his spiritual development and powers were great, he could not allay his mother’s suffering by himself. Going to the Buddha, he asked how he could help his mother.

The Buddha replied, “For the sake of fathers and mother of seven generations past, as well as for fathers and mothers of the present who are in distress, you should prepare an offering of clean basins full of hundreds of flavors and the five fruits; and other offerings of incense, oil, lamps, candles, beds and bedding – all the best of the world, to the greatly virtuous assembled Sangha of the 10 directions.”

Through the offerings to the Sangha, the Buddhist monastic community, and the collective efforts of monks, nuns and lay people assembled, Mahamaudgalyayana’s mother was released from her suffering as a hungry ghost and allowed to continue her spiritual journey toward ultimate liberation.

Today, Ullambana is an annual festival that remembers and honors family both living and dead, and is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month.


Tel. (717)248-4050
200 Greenwood Avenue
Yeagertown, PA 17099