The Hungry Ghost Festival is different from the Western Halloween
Chinese perform ceremonies or traditions to protect themselves from attacks or pranks by the ghosts and to honor and worship their ancestors or famous people of the past. So they must take precautions or honor the dead. It is believed that the ghosts of dead people can help and protect them.The Hungry Ghost Festival comes at a time of year when the moon is full near the end of summer. In many ways, this festival is reminiscent of Halloween or the Night of the Dead in Western countries. They believe that on the days of Ghost Month and especially on the night of the full moon there is more of a bridge between the dead and the living,
Halloween originated from the traditional holiday of Celts in Great Britain who believed that the last day of October was “the day of the dead” or “the ghost day” when ghosts crossed over the boundary between the living and the dead. Cultures from Europe to China have traditional days of the dead or ghost days that are thousands of years old that were part of the tribal folk religions before the advent of Christianity in Europe and Buddhism in Asia.
History of the Hungry Ghost Festival
Some of the ancient folk religion is incorporated in Taoism, the indigenous religion of China. The Taoists chant together to free the ghosts. The gates of hell get opened on the first day of the seventh month, and hungry ghosts are released to find food or to take revenge on those who have behaved badly according to Taoist records
The origin of the Hungry Ghost Festival and the Ghost Month in China is uncertain. Cultures in Asia from India to Cambodia to Japan share similar beliefs about the month, and these traditions seem to date from before Buddha. More ancient folk religions covered the entire area.
What's Unique about the Ghost festival?
'Getai' performance, is a mainstay of the festival which is the popular mode of entertainment for the wandering spirits. But 'getai' today is a very different animal which is jazzed up with snazzy LED panel lit stages.
When is Ghost Festival celebrated?
The Hungry Ghost Festival often begins with a parade with decorated lanterns in various shapes, including boats and houses, are placed atop decorated floats. The paper lanterns are then carried to the water, lit, and released. At some Hungry Ghost festivals, like in Keelung, Taiwan, a Chinese character of a family’s last name is placed on the lantern that the family has sponsored. It is believed the farther the lantern floats on the water, the more good fortune the family will have in the coming year.
The glowing lanterns and boats are meant to give directions to lost souls and help ghosts and deities find their way to the food offerings. The paper lanterns eventually catch on fire and sink.