Hungry Ghost Festival

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Hungry Ghost Festival falls on the 7th moon, 15th day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, making it on the 30th August for 2004, 19th August for 2005 not too sure about 2006 though but in 2007, the hungry ghost festival would fall on the coming 13th August. The build up to this festive date begins roughly a week before where Chinese Opera’s and Chinese Puppet Shows are put together for audiences, those living and the non-living alike, at temples and certain Chinese Associations for a week prior to the big day. These performances are more rampant in towns and villages that are more Chinese dominated like in Penang, Perak , Malacca etc.

Seats in the front row are often reserved for the ghosts whereas the living would happily occupy the back seats. Hungry Ghost festival is originated during the Buddhist fusion with Chinese filial virtue. With the introduction of Buddhism entering China, Buddhism was immediately faced with the opposition of Confucian’s filial virtue. Buddhism believed that one would have to leave one’s home and family in favour of chasity and begging (meaning one would have to leave all ancestral commitments). Confucianism, on the other hand, emphasizes on on filial virtue and the honouring of ancestors. To adapt to the country, Sanskrit sutras then included obedience to family and upholding family traditions which would be passed onto the male heir of the family.


So how did the Hungry Ghost festival come about? Taoists believed that one’s soul contains both yin & yang. The Yin is called kui (demon) and the yang is named shen (spirit). At death, the kui would return to earth whereas the shen remains in grave. If the dead relative’s soul is neglected by the family, it will persist as kui eventually bringing problems to the living relatives. These kui’s are referred to as hungry ghosts whereas ancestors are refereed as shen. The Chinese Spirit world believed the dead and the living world are parallel which meant that spirits would have the same basic needs like food and clothing. In this spirit world, there also exists homeless and hungry souls perceived to be spiritual beggars who are driven by jealousy of the living which drives them to cause mischief in the living world.

With this, Hungry Ghost Festival not only pays homage to ancestors but also to all other neglected souls roaming in between worlds. Food would be placed outside the house with prayers. Somtimes, burning of hell money are also done to please those neglected souls

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6 Responses to “Hungry Ghost Festival”

  1. amanda Says:

    wau..very detailed explainatio. When hungry ghost festival, i dun like to go late so much. scared later i met wif one of “them”. haha. Sumore i dun really dare to look around when im in lift.. i hate that festival. Makes me scared for the whole month

  2. Kenny Ng Says:

    Very good and informative about it. I really not aware this year is falls on 13th August. That mean 3 days more left.

  3. suanie Says:

    Don’t think about it too much lor…

  4. Hungry Ghost Festive Month « The Yat (One) and Only Journey Says:

    […] Spooky Corner – Hungry Ghost Festival […]

  5. night shade Says:

    hungry ghost festival always freaks me out wen this spooky season comes i always sleep at 7 pm

  6. Gestapo Says:

    thinking abt it… if the needs are the same, why the hell don’t they start their own economy?

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