A vegetarian cuisine week is taking place from August 19 to 26 at Dam Sen Cultural Park in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Damsenpark.com.vn The event is organized on the occasion of the annual Buddhist Vu Lan Festival on the 15th of the seventh lunar month (August 25 on the Gregorian calendar this year) that honors parents and ancestors. People eat vegetarian food during the festival to pray for the best for their parents and ancestors, making it the largest vegetarian time of the year. With the theme “Lotus Flower Season” (as the lotus is the flower symbol of Buddhism), the week offers more than 300 vegetarian dishes such as brown rice, oat porridge, “bun rieu chay” (vegetable noodle soup), and “banh xeo gac” (spiny bitter gourd pancake), and 50 types of drinks. Nearly 80 restaurants, food stalls, pagodas and vegetarian mini-marts in the city are participating in the week. Visitors can learn about vegetarian cuisine and its health benefits as well as Buddhist rituals at the stalls of pagodas from the city and other neighboring areas. A series of cultural activities will be held, such as an “ao dai” (Vietnam’s traditional dress) fashion show with lotus designs, music performances, and a vegetarian food fair, with gifts, Buddhist ritual objects, and local specialities also on offer. Tickets to the festival are VND150,000 ($6.5).