Thursday, September 17, 2015

Day 60 - Good bye Hungry Ghosts!

According to the lunar calendar, today the seventh month, the "ghost month" ended. Its name is Ghost month because the belief is that in that month, the ghosts and spirits, including those of dead ancestors, rise from hell (in the Chinese religion everybody goes to hell) and visit us on earth.
We already experienced the Japanese version (called o-bon) in the first two weeks of August which culminated in the illumination of temples and entire hills to guide the spirits of the dead back to heaven. It's the end of Zhong Yuan Jie.

According to the folk belief of the Chinese (including those in Singepore), it is important to celebrate the ghost month by offerings of food, burning paper stuff and maybe dance/music performances.
Food offerings are not only found in temples. No - in every Hawker center and even in the cafeterias of the National University, you will find a colorful table where food offerings are presented to the "hungry ghosts".
Paper stuff is burnt to transmit it to the ghosts. We have seen fancy looking clothes (made from paper), lots of money (made from paper), gold bars (made from paper) and many kinds of other stuff (including paper passports, paper iPads, paper cell phones) that such a ghost needs in hell. The paper is burnt next to apartment buildings in big fires in the evening.
Dances or performances we have not seen, but my father read that the first row of seats is reserved for the ghosts.

Paper stuff: watches, glasses, iPhones, tablets, razors, hairdryers...

I am happy that the hungry ghosts now have returned to hell. The food altars have disappeared everywhere and all you might do all the things again that are not advised in the ghost month: You can again
  • walk at night,
  • swim (ghosts will try to drown you to find a corpse for their rebirth),
  • marry, move to a new house or start a business
  • put out clothes for drying at night
  • pick up coins from the street
  • wear red clothes
  • sing and whistle
  • move close to walls (because ghosts like sticking to walls) and
  • celebrate birthdays.

What a relief!

This, by the way, is one passage of the
Maxwell Hawker Center, where I met
our friendly guide from the first week
On the right side of the picture before
you find this food altar
Even in the NUS canteen, there
are food altars with offerings

The ghost month fitted nicely with a strange cable station that we discovered here in Singapore. SyFy is the former SciFi channel that now specializes in the strange and the supernatural. One of the favorite quotes of one of their moderators is "What we see may not be real. What is real we might not see."

No comments:

Post a Comment