Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hungry Ghost Festival

In Malaysia and some other parts of world, once again it is time for the Hungry Ghost festival. This festival is always celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th Lunar month. On this day, the Chinese believe that the "Gates of Hell" are opened and that the spirits of the dead return to visit their living relatives. According to the belief, hungry ghosts or pretas are beings in sub-human developmental stage. Due to their past lives which were lived in extreme greed, they have been reborn to experience constant state of hunger and thirst.

In the olden days, the family members made offerings of new harvest to their ancestors believed to be alive in the world beyond. There are some similarities with the Buddhist Ullambana festival and the Taoist Ghost Festival which also known as ‘Chung Yuan’, in the sense that during both these festivals, offerings are made to the departed ancestors.

The state of Penang, being one of the states with very high Chinese population, reveals the gist of this festival. One can observe, along every road where majority of Chinese community of Buddhist or Taoist faith lives, offerings are made by burning replica money notes or ‘hell money’ and also in some areas offerings made represent of the earthly comforts such as form of paper houses, televisions, cars and many more. Chinese people believe that by these offerings and prayers, the hungry ghosts will be happy and live a comfortable live in their planes of existence.

Ceremonies are carried our in the temples, homes, Chinese guilds and Chinese Associations. Usually food such as chicken, fruits, bean curd and rice, are offered during the prayers and placed by the roadsides to appease the wandering spirits. The Chinese believe that by these offerings, they can provide the spirits with all manner of earthly pleasures, thus sending a message to the ghosts not to cause disharmony or serious health implications among the members of the family.

Various cultures and various beliefs add colors to this life, which otherwise would be a monotonous affair from beginning till the end. Though most people may have lost the impact and actual significance of the festival, some understands that the ultimate significance of this Hungry Ghost festival is to remember the dead relatives and pay respect to them.Its really interesting to see that many of the traditional celebrations and prayers are still being practiced by many.

Our ancestors are the foundation of our existence and the catalyst for the continuity of human race on this earth. Therefore, it’s a very noble act to pay tribute and respect for those people.

Errors under your tender care.
Mistake are mine.
Corrections are yours.

©cyclopseven 2007. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Good one. Very informative. Thanks for sharing. Take care my dear fren. God Bless.