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Things That We Need to Know about Hungry Ghost Festival  

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This is the time of year when the underworld gates are breached by souls allowing them to wander in the human world. Taoists and Buddhists call this Hungry Ghost Festival. The festival is is observed by Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.

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The Taoists call this festival Zhong Yuan Zie while the Buddhists call this Yu Lan Pen. The festival is observed during the 7th month of the Chinese calendar (August 28, 2015 to be exact). They believe that spirits, ghosts and ancestors come up to visit.

  • Significance: The significance depends on the tradition. If we are looking at it from a Buddhist’s perspective, the festival speaks of filial piety. Taoists on the other hand see the festival as a form of appeasing the souls.

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  • Customs: The common sights during the festival include food, burning of joss sticks, paper effigies and paper money from Singapore to Taiwan. Here in Singapore, the festival features dinners and auctions. The highlight is the getai shows which constitute Chinese musical performances. The auctions also offer different lucky items like the wujin (charcoal enveloped in gold paper).
  • Taboos during the festival: There are many things that we should not do during the Ghost Month. If we are superstitious, it cannot harm us to avoid some activities that can attract attention from the souls. We should not step or kick the food offerings. It does not end there, we should also avoid leaning on walls and avoid singing as ghosts will enjoy it.

Even if we do not observe Hungry Ghost Festival, the sounds and sights are captivating enough.
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