Monday, July 28, 2014

中元節 Hungry Ghost Festival

G'day readers! Today is the first day of the annual 中元節 盂蘭盆 鬼月 Hungry Ghost Festival. This festival lasts the entire seven month of the lunar calendar.

The months symbolises a "holiday" for the Hungry Ghost Realm beings and the deceased when the gates of hell are opened, to receive food, entertainment and prayers among other religious offerings. 

According to research, these beings or ghosts (if you like) look like ermm.. short humanoids with a big belly (not aliens) because they are not allowed to consume food in other months due to bad karma from previous lives. In other months, whatever food they eat turns into burning coal magically. Unfortunate as it sounds, they also have different classes of hungry ghosts (rich, poor, celebrity status, handsome maybe etc).

Temporary stages/platforms 歌台 Getai are erected around neighbourhoods where artistes are invited to perform for both human and ghosts alike. 

Also, there will be feasts 吃桌 Jiat Tok which during the dinner, participants can bid for auspicious ornaments (黑金 Or Kim being the highlight), electronic products etc.

These Getai and Jiak Tok are usually organised by Folk Taoism Temples (note "folk") and Chinese Communities. 

Here we have one of the "standard package" of offerings that are easily available at any supermarkets or incense paper shop fronts at around $5.

While there are more elaborated and premium packages, this one here consists of :

1. Square Paper Money 
2. Hell Bank Notes
3. Candles
4. Incense Sticks
5. Seven-coloured Fabrics
6. Clothings and Acceseories pack
7. Gold bars
8. 往生紙 Thin White Rectangular Paper
9. Some licence thingy
10. Candies and Tea

I'm not sure if these beings receive all the gifts, but according to people who has the "third eye" 陰陽眼, the beings rush towards the offerings in excitement. Also, when you see the burning incense paper spiralling, they are "receiving" the products. 

I even have a personal friend who claimed to have seen these beings eat the candles. 

Anyways wishing all who celebrates a Happy Hungry Ghosts Festival and Selamat Hari Raya Adrifiti! 

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