The Hungry Ghost Festival




The Hungry Ghost Festival – A Feast for the Wandering Souls

For those of you who think it’s only Halloween that enables ghosts and ghouls to have their share of the fun, here’s another festival that is sure to catch the eyes of hungry ghosts from all around the world. Celebrated in China and Singapore, The Hungry Ghost Festival, unlike Halloween is a month long ritual or celebration that is aimed at providing solace for wandering souls.

Also called as Zhong Yuan Jie in the Mandarin language and The Feast for the Wandering Souls, the festival is celebrated on the 15th day of that month which falls in the 7th position in the Lunar calendar. Though the festival has been reduced to nothing but a mere feast in China, it is still very actively celebrated in Singapore and draws hordes of locals and tourists alike.


Origin of the Festival: The Hungry Ghost Festival is apparently said to have started way back in ancient times. According to traditional folklore, a disciple of Lord Buddha, Mu Lian lost his mother when she broke her vow to not eat meat and was sentenced to suffer the same plight as that of hungry ghosts that wander around.

It is said that Mu Lian offered rice and other delicacies to his mother’s spirit only to have them snatched away by other such hungry souls. Turning to Buddha for help, Mu Lian was advised to seek the help of the monks of the Ten Directions who in turn asked Mu Lian to prepare a feast that comprised of several food items and material goods.

This feast had to be offered on the 15th day of the 7th month in the Lunar calendar to the ghosts of the past seven generations. Once the hungry ghosts had had their fill of food and wandered away, Mu Lian was able to feed his mother. Hence, the festival continued on from that day and is carried on every year with the same pomp and splendor in Singapore.

Significance of the Festival: According to Chinese folklore, wandering souls tend to either roam around aimlessly or cause mischief if they need something. It is during these thirty days after the 15th that the souls are set free to wander the earth.

If ignored by friends and relatives, the angry ghosts may tend to wreck havoc on the people and cause several disturbances. It’s like a holiday from hell for these ghosts and the story goes that if these souls are not appeased, there’s no telling what they may do. It is for this reason alone that the Chinese dread celebrating occasions like weddings, house warming events and birthdays throughout the month and refrain from staying out late in the night.

Event Particulars: The main element of the festival is to feed the ghosts to their heart’s content (of course they don’t have souls but just an empty heart), so that they don’t turn to humans for food. Thus, the feast comprises of several food items prepared by the locals and served on many tables that line the streets and corners. Everything from rice, vegetables and fruits to meat and chicken is offered in addition to a variety of deserts and chocolates.

Apart from food, the locals burn stacks of paper, also called hell money, for the ghosts to spend in hell. Present in various sizes and denominations, these notes are offered to the ghosts to satisfy their material needs. Other paper offerings are also burnt in addition to joss sticks and candles to provide a light for these souls that wander in the dark. Muestras gratis y regalos

Local companies in the region organize masses every day of the month that enables locals and visitors alike to pray for their lost relatives and friends. The ghosts are not referred to as ghosts but rather brothers in these meetings and local priests chant hymns and prayers to appease the souls of those who are caught between the two worlds (between the real world and the spirit world, we suppose). After each mass prayer, the attendees share their food with everyone else in the group.

The festival does not lack in the entertainment department and performances and shows are put up by professional and amateur show groups alike for the entire month. Also called as Getai (song stage) in Chinese, these entertainment shows include Chinese operas, skits, songs and dances that are aimed to entertain ghosts. Of course humans are invited too!

Make shift stages are set up and the performers don elaborate costumes to make the shows all the more merrier. In addition to these shows, celebration dinners are carried out throughout the region and auspicious artifacts are auctioned among the people who buy them in the hope that these items would bring them luck and prosperity in the coming years.

With all these feasts and festivities aimed at entertaining ghosts and wandering spirits, it is but little doubt that you may want to become a Chinese ghost after death rather than a Western one. Beware! For Hell in the Chinese tradition is separated into 18 different levels of tortures and sufferings if you want to become a Chinese ghost instead of a Western ghost who enjoys just one Hell. That heard of, we guess you just want to be a human spectator in the festival right? Well then, all you have to do is wait for the 7th month of the Lunar calendar and book a flight to Singapore to take part in the merry making!

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    The Hungry Ghost Festival

    The Hungry Ghost Festival

    For those of you who think it’s only Halloween that enables ghosts and ghouls to have their share of the fun, here’s another festival that is sure to catch





    The Hungry Ghost Festival
    The Hungry Ghost Festival

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