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Hungry Ghost Festival

Hungry Ghost Festival

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The 15th lunar day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the 7th lunar month. In general, it is regarded as "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, eat their fill, and 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 is without offering prepared for them, the spirit will enter their homes to help them with 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 not cared for by the living. Incenses and paper monies, "Hell Bank Note," is burned in hopes that the spirits of the dead will protect and bring good luck to the family.

Restless spirit's during the Hungry Ghost Festival month. There will be many celebrations like banquets and offering prayers held up during this month for all souls, such as abandoned spirits and wandering spirits. 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. 

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The Chinese believe the Hungry Ghost Festival month falls on the 7th lunar month, which means the Hungry Ghost Festival month begins. This festival is usually celebrated around August, throughout the 7th lunar month, and is popularly known as the Hungry Ghosts Festival. 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. 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 their deceased ancestors. 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, came from a neighboring country about ten years ago, working in a farmers market as an odd-job worker. He is an honest, hard-working person and is eager to learn. After working several years with his boss, Uncle Lee promoted him to the supervisor position. Since Sam was still single, he rented a room near his working place.

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

For almost ten years, Sam has never missed the group after work. At a particular time, Sam's friends were surprised that Sam didn't turn up for several nights recently. When they inquired at his working place, they were told Sam had 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's sickness.

After that day, Uncle Lee went to a medium to solve Sam's sickness. Uncle Lee told the medium that his supervisor Sam had 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 of rest to recover. But why is there still no sign of recovery after all medical treatments this time, 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; Sam's friends told me on the 1st day of the 7th lunar month after dinner with his friends while they walked home. When Sam sees people offering prayer with incense, 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. Like me, I am 56 years old this year, still single. After I die, who will pray for me? So what is this praying for?" 

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


When Sam sees people offering prayer with incense, 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. Like me, I am 56 years old this year, still single. After I die, who will pray for me? So what is this praying?" 

The medium then asked about Sam's age. From what the medium said, Sam, at the age of 56, belongs to the zodiac sign of Pig. Unfortunately, he was conflicted with Tai Sui in the Snake zodiac year, and on the 1st and 2nd nights of 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 pray at the roadside and burn them there. 

Also, he has to make an offer to the deity of Tai Sui (太歲) on Tai Sui's birthday on the 19th of the current month (7th lunar month) for protection and safety. OK! Reply, Uncle Lee; I will follow 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". As suggested by the medium, Uncle Lee took the entire offering items home.

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

After two days, Uncle Lee phoned again to the Master, saying that after praying to Tai Sui, Sam was recovering and resting. Sam's sickness was indeed caused by his offense to the spirit's "Good brothers" with his bad mouth and also neglected to pray and assimilate Tai Sui, which he has conflicted with. Sam is lucky enough to be taken care of by Uncle Lee, or he will get in big trouble.

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Deity of Tai Sui

Do not say unpleasant things during the Ghost Festival in the 7th lunar month, especially among those offering. It would be very troublesome to offend 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's 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 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. 

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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 ghost stories and make jokes or complain during this month in case of an offense against them.

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

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

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

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 are 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, and 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 entities disappear entirely, and you never find them again.

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

Your pet’s behavior 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 mindset you had before. However, who knows us better than ourselves? All the answers we want are found nowhere else but inside our hearts.

Do you believe in Ghosts?

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

Many key signs can alert you that a ghost is existing space in your house;

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