Hungry Ghost Festival

Hungry Ghost Festival


The 15th lunar day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the 7th lunar month. In general, is regarded as the "Ghost Month" (鬼月), in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm to roam the earth to seek entertainment, to eat their fill and have a good time before they have to go back for another year. As it's been told and passed down throughout the centuries, if the house's without offering prepared for them, the spirit will enter their homes to help themselves to what they need. Fearful of such visits, people are generally quick to make offerings to appease and ward off these hungry ghosts. This festival demonstrates the concern in Chinese religious belief for the pitiable existence of souls which are not cared for by the living. Incenses and paper monies "Hell Bank Note" are burned in hopes that the spirits of the dead will protect and bring good luck to the family.

There will be lots of celebration like banquets and offering prayers held up during this month for all spirits such as abandoned spirit's, wandering spirit's and restless spirit's during the Hungry Ghost Festival month. As part of the celebrations of this festival, opera singing stage or movies is often held, primarily to entertain the ghosts in the hope that when distracted or happy, they will not look for or disturb living beings. The first night of the opera singing stage or movies is traditionally meant for the ghosts to attend. Another practice is to hold celebratory dinners, during which various items believed to bring luck and blessing will be auctioned. Many would bid for these items in the hope and belief that their generous bidding would bring them prosperity in the year ahead. 


The Hungry Ghost Festival month is believed by the Chinese, which fell on the 7th lunar month, and it means that the Hungry Ghost Festival month begins. This festival is usually celebrated around August, throughout the entire 7th lunar month, and is popularly known as the Hungry Ghosts Festival. And children are not allowed to go or hang out during the night, which believe by the Chinese that all the ghosts and spirits of the dead from the underworld have been temporarily released and roam around to visit the living. As such, offerings are made to the restless spirits, loved ones and also their deceased ancestors. Due to the theme of ghosts and spirits, the festival is sometimes also known as the “Chinese Halloween” It is called Zhong Yuan Jie (中元節) in Chinese. It is said that the gates of Hell are opened.

This is a story that happened in the ghost month. A bachelor named Sam, age 45 who came from a neighbouring country about ten years ago, working in a farmers market as an odd-job worker. He is an honest, hard-working person and was eager to learn. After working several years with his boss, Uncle Lee promoted him to the position of supervisor. Since Sam was still single, he rented a room near his working place.

Sam used to take food at one of the nearby food centres, and he made many friends there. Sam got along with all his friends very well for years and located at that food centre to pass the time and made regular gathering there.

For almost the past ten years, Sam never missed the group after work. On a particular time, Sam friends were surprised that why Sam didn't turn up for several nights recently. When enquiry at his working place, they were told that Sam has fallen sick. As Sam was so strong and sturdy, they hardly believed that he could have fallen ill for so long. They then asked Uncle Lee to find a doctor to cure Sam sickness.

After that day, Uncle Lee went to a medium to solve Sam sickness. Uncle Lee told the medium that his supervisor Sam has been fallen sick for about ten days. He had been so strong for the past ten years, and he only goes to the doctors 2 to 3 times for a minor sickness. Usually, he just took 2 to 3 days rest to recover. But why this time so far there is still no sign of recovery after all medical treatments, and he keeps sleeping all day long. Is it possible due to offending "dirty things" as it was in the 7th lunar month of the year, said Uncle Lee?

The medium then told Uncle Lee that maybe he still needs to take a few more days to recover due to his age, said the medium. On hearing this, Uncle Lee immediately reported to the medium. No, it's not like that, according to Sam friends, they told me on the 1st day in the 7th lunar month when after taking dinner with his friends while they walked home. When Sam sees people's offering prayer with incenses, candles and burning paper monies by the roadside, he does not believe these and claims that "What is that for, there will be nothing left after one is dead. So what is this praying for?" Just like me, I am 56 years old this year, still single. After I die, who will pray for me? 


After that day on the 2nd night, and at the opera performances stage he said the purpose of those people's organising such activity is only to make money. From then on, when I heard these from what his friends say, I started to suspect that he gets sick because of such offence to those spirits "Good brothers" as what we Chinese called.


When Sam sees people's offering prayer with incenses, candles and burning hell money by the roadside, he does not believe these and claims that "What is that for, there will be nothing left after one is dead. So what is this praying?" Just like me, I am 56 years old this year, still single. After I die, who will pray for me? 

The medium than asked about Sam age. From what the medium said, Sam, with the age of 56 belongs to the zodiac sign of Pig. Unfortunately, he was conflicted with Tai Sui in the Snake zodiac year and the 1st and 2nd nights on the 7th lunar month his mouth caused him troubles. After that, the medium suggested that Sam should hold and offer Pudu Offering Set (普渡宝牒) and to pray at the roadside and burn then there. 

Also, he has to make an offer to the deity of Tai Sui (太歲) on Tai Sui birthday on the 19th of the current month (7th lunar month) for protection and safety. OK! Reply Uncle Lee, I will follow as what you say to help him. "Sam is an honest man helping me for more than eight years, and I treated him like part of our family. I hope he will get well very soon. I will tell him not to talk rubbish anymore". Uncle Lee took the entire offering items home, as suggested by the medium.

When the Hungry Ghosts Festival month is not yet over the medium received a call from Uncle Lee saying, Master, I have done all as you instructed. Sam looks much better now. We went to pray to the deity of Tai Sui yesterday. I think it will be better if Master would let Sam pray and assimilate Tai Sui in your centre. 

After two days, Uncle Lee phoned again to the Master saying that after praying to Tai Sui, Sam is in the course of recovery and is taking rest. Sam sickness was indeed caused by his offence to the spirits "Good brothers", with his bad-mouth and also neglected to pray and assimilate Tai Sui that he has conflicted. Sam is lucky enough to be taken cared for by Uncle Lee, or he will get in big trouble.


Deity of Tai Sui

Do not say unpleasant things in the 7th lunar month on the Ghost Festival, especially among those offering. It would be very troublesome if you offended the "Good brother's". Especially Chinese, those in conflict with the deity of Tai Sui should pray to Tai Sui after Spring day and return thanks to Tai Sui at the end of the year. It is even important to pray to Tai Sui on Tai Sui birthday on the 19th of the seven lunar months.

During the ghost festival, peoples avoid getting married or moving to a new house and try to avoid outdoor activities unusually late at night after dark. It is believed that if a ghost finds someone in the street, they will follow them home, and all of the family members' will have bad luck for the next year. People should also avoid swimming on Ghost day, since they may be caught and drowned by a Shui Gui (水鬼), a person who had died through drowning and wanted to return to life. 


If you are born during the ghost month, avoid celebrating your birthday at night. It's better to celebrate during the daytime. Please don't talk about ghosts stories, and make jokes or complaining during this month in case of an offence against them.


Please don’t touch, step and disturb offering where people left out for the spirits, and don’t kick or sweep it away, especially those offered by the roadside. If you stepped it accidentally, you should apologise, and you will be safe. 

Please don’t pee on a tree, as it will offend the spirit’s resided there.


Like there is a distinct smell in the room or the scent of a perfume that is unrecognisable.

Temperature changes are also a telltale sign. Perhaps you feel cold breezes around you or goosebumps and chills. Cold spots and breezes when the windows and doors are closed, is a sure sign that a ghost is in these areas.

You feel that someone is watching you when there is no one around.

You feel as if someone has touched you.

You hear a knocking or tapping sound, footsteps, banging, voices, whispers while you are alone.

Out of the corner of your eye, you see a small flickering of lights. These are known as spirit light.

Objects in your house have been moved from one place to another without touching them. Or objects, disappear entirely, and you never find them again.

The water in your house turns on and off of its own accord.

Your pet’s behaviour seems strange. You see your cat or dog staring at something in the air that there is nothing.

The telephone rings and no one is on the other end. Instead, you hear a lot of strange noises.


You can think of this page as an informative and entertaining guide to the world of ghosts or return to your everyday existence with the same mind-set you had before. However, who knows us better than ourselves? All of the answers we want to know are found nowhere else but inside our hearts.

Do you believe in Ghosts?

It just goes to show you that you never know who is nearby, but it is assumed that some ghost is always looking after you. There are unexplainable electrical surges in your house or machinery and appliances like lights, computers, televisions, radios, and garage doors. If your appliances turn on and off by themselves, you can bet that you might have a housemate sharing the same house with you. 

There are many key signs that can alert you that a ghost is existing space in your house;