Wandering Soul Day


The 15th day of the seventh lunar month is the Buddhist version of the Christian All Soul’s Day, when the souls of those condemned to suffer in hell for their sins are freed for a day.


The Vu Lan Day in Hoi An is an event associated with the annual wandering of the souls of ancestors; this event has its counterpart in almost all religions across the world. The Vu Lan Day in Hoi An is known in English as the “Wandering Souls Day”, as on this day souls are said to wander about their mortal homes. This event is commemorated in all the pagodas and shrines in Hoi An.

The tradition has very old roots, but it continues unaltered to this day, with families putting out offerings – flowers, fruits, sticky rice cakes, boiled cassava, sweet potatoes and sugarcane – to nurture the souls of their ancestors. The Vu Lan Day is a continiuation of the tradition of seeking forgiveness for the sins of deceased parents, so that they may be spared the tortures of hell and may return home. This day is also a mark of gratitude towards deceased parents. Lights are set afloat on the river to guide the wandering souls to nirvana. Also, on this night food is spread out on an altar within the house to appease the souls’ hunger, and false money is burnt as an offering to honor them.

The biggest festival in Vietnam after Tet, The Wandering Sould Day is considered a very sacred event. If you are not just looking for fun and good times, but you want to know more about the Viet culture as well, then a visit to Hoi An during this season is highly recommended.

Source: hoianworldheritage.org.vn

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