Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore
The Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Chinese festival observed in
Singapore and other parts of Asia. It falls on the 15th day of the seventh
month in the lunar calendar, which typically corresponds to August or
September in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is a time to pay respects
to ancestors and wandering spirits, as well as to appease and honor them
through various rituals and offerings.
Here's how the Hungry Ghost Festival is observed in Singapore:
Opening of the Ghost Month
The Hungry Ghost Festival is part of the larger Ghost Month, which spans the entire seventh month of the lunar calendar. The Ghost Month is believed to be a time when the gates of the afterlife are opened, allowing spirits to return to the human realm.
Offerings and Rituals
Throughout the Ghost Month, families offer food, incense, and other items at temporary roadside altars or family shrines to appease the spirits. The offerings are intended to show respect and ensure that the wandering spirits find peace.
Burning of Joss Paper
One common practice is the burning of joss paper or "hell money," along with other paper offerings. These symbolic items are believed to be transferred to the spirit realm and are meant to provide comfort and resources to the departed spirits.
Chinese Opera and Performances
Cultural performances, including Chinese opera and live performances, are organized in various places during the Hungry Ghost Festival. These performances are believed to entertain and appease the spirits.
Getai refers to live stage performances featuring a variety of acts, including singing, dancing, and comedy. These performances are often held outdoors and are believed to entertain both living and wandering spirits.
Some areas host street processions during the Hungry Ghost Festival, featuring elaborate floats, performances, and deity statues. These processions are believed to cleanse and protect the area from negative spirits.
Taboos and Precautions
There are various taboos during the Ghost Month, such as not staying out late at night, not swimming, and not taking photos at night to avoid disturbing or attracting spirits. Some observe not moving house and not participating in any other joyful celebrations, such as marriage celebrations and birth parties.
Closing of the Ghost Month
The Hungry Ghost Festival concludes with a grand closing ceremony on the 30th day of the seventh lunar month. This is marked by cultural performances, processions, and rituals to bid farewell to the spirits and close the gates of the afterlife.
The Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore is a blend of cultural, religious, and superstitious beliefs. While it is observed by many, not everyone subscribes to these practices, and it's viewed as a time of remembrance, respect, and cultural heritage for those who participate.