Quote from Ullambana Sutra
“For the sake of fathers and mothers 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 ten directions.”
I have questions about making the Ullambana offering.
According to the Sutra, we need to prepare (or buy??) many different kinds of food, lamps, and beds. Do we buy all those items and make the offering? Or if there are more friendly ways to make the Ullambana offering?
September 3 is the real day for Ullambana. Do we make the offering on that day? Or is it the same that we do it on Sunday?
DT, Cerritos, California
For the Ullambana Festival, the lay people should make offerings as follows:
1. Hand carry the “basins” (water vessels) containing “food of the 100 flavors; the five kinds of fruits/ grains; incense, candles (lights), banners (adornments); beds, beddings, (alms) bowls, clothing, basins”
2. Of the highest quality
3. (Make the offering) with utmost sincerity
4. To the Sangha of the 10 Directions
Let me provide some clarifications:
1. Personally carry your offerings to the temple.
* One can personally cook the food/fruit or purchase it: of these, rice is the most important item and the rest represent the daily food necessities of the Sangha. This may also include medicine.
* Incense, candles (lights), banners (adornments): other daily necessities for religious (ceremonious) work.
* Beds, beddings, (alms) bowls, clothing, basins: The 3rd kind of utensils: clothes to shelter against the wind and cold, bed to shelter against the weather, etc.
2. Of the highest quality: that one can afford. It should not be the case that you hold back on the expenses so that you have more for yourself.
3. With the utmost sincerity: is the key here. Make the offerings of the things that you feel that the sangha needs. It’s for the sake of providing blessings to your ancestors so that they have ample necessities (without lacking anything).
4. To the Sangha of the 10 Directions: because the left home people at the local temple are only representatives who will accept the offerings to the Sangha of the 10 Directions. Making the offerings with such a mindset enables you to obtain blessings for making offerings to all the virtuous Sangha of the Dharma Realm (versus currying favors of the local Sangha only).