Updated: Nov 4, 2020
The Hungry Ghost Festival – known as the Ghost Month – is upon us now. It is also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, Zhongyuan Jie (中元節), Gui Jie (鬼節) or Yulan Festival (simplified Chinese: 盂兰盆节; traditional Chinese: 盂蘭盆節; pinyin: Yúlánpénjié) is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held in certain East Asian countries. Many have started celebrating from 1st and 15th day of the lunar calendar.
1st Thing: 19 August 2020 七月初一 7th lunar month Day 1 and 2nd September 2020 七月十五 7th lunar month Day 15. It is said that on the first day, the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. 15th Day when they are also stronger in nature. 陰氣很旺
2nd Thing: Activities during the month: would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a paper-mâché form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals (often vegetarian meals) would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. It is to pay respects to all deceased, including the same and younger generations, while the former only includes older generations in Qing Ming Festival.
3rd Thing: The Hungry Ghost Festival has part of its roots in Taoism. It is believed that hungry ghosts are released from the gates of Hell to roam the living realm for exactly a month to look for food or to take revenge on those who have behaved badly.
Due to such belief, people take precaution during the seventh month by burning paper money and joss incense, offering food to the “wandering ghosts” as well as pray to their ancestors for blessings.
4th Thing: The Buddhist sees the Hungry Ghost Festival in a different light. According to the Buddhist, the seventh month of the lunar year is not a month to be afraid of. This origin was found in various Buddhist texts. When Buddha was alive, his disciples departed into the forest of India to mediate during the rainy season of summer and would emerge on the 15th day of the seventh month to celebrate the completion of their mediation and report to the Buddha.