Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hungry Ghosts Festival...

The Hungry Ghosts Festival is here. It is a month long and started on August 1st and will end on August 30th. I think this is somewhat similar to the Halloween of the West.
I did my prayers and offerings yesterday (in the evening). It being the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. I normally (like most people) would make my offerings by the roadside. Hell notes, coloured joss papers, gold and silver joss papers are burned. Food is also offered to appease the wandering ghosts. We lit 7 candles on each side of our gate. As told by my grandmother, this is to ward them (the angry ghosts) from the house. Mine is just a simple offering. The elaborate offerings has more things like paper houses or even cars. As such when these are burned, it can really look like a bonfire. I remember a time when my sister had visitor from the West who rubbed his palms gleefully and said "Look, Look, someone is having a bonfire!" when he saw the offerings. Remember this Festival if you do visit Malaysia during this time. It isn't a bonfire! LOL.
This is normally practised by those who are taoist. The belief has it that during this period, the gates of hell are opened allowing the hungry ghosts to wander the earth looking for food. These are believed to be angry and hungry ghosts. They are ghosts of those who had commited suicide or maybe in accidents. They can also be of those who has noone to care for them meaning no offerings of food or money are made to them. I remember as children, during this time we were not allowed to go swimming in the sea, river or lake. Grandma always cautioned that the ghosts will drag us into the sea. That means we'll die by drowning! Eeew... We were also not allowed to leave the house after sunset and that is a very strict rule when grandma was alive. It is feared that these ghosts will possess us, the children.
Street opera shows and live performances are held to amuse the angry ghosts. That was what was told by grandma. I remember when I was very young, it is almost a taboo to ask if I can watch the performances. Those are for the ghosts. As I grew, the rules were relaxed and I was able to follow the elders when they visit such places to watch the 'shows' there. Grandma, mom, uncles or aunties would always pay a visit to the temples to pray and make their offerings. These stage/roadside operas are usually held within the grounds of a temple.
**This is a picture of a live performance. Notice people standing and watching? Chairs are provided but only a few. You can bring your own chair from home! That's what we do if the shows are nice! LOL. I will get one of the opera performance if I come across one. :o)


Grandma Faith said...

I dropped by to say Hi. I like your blog. It is fun to learn about other cultures. Thanks for visiting my blog. said...

Glad you liked my blog. Thank you for dropping by. I liked your blog too. :o)