Every 7th month of the Lunar calendar, the gates of Hell will open and the ghosts are free to roam the earth for one month (30 days). Ghosts who have families would return home to visit their relatives and they are warmly welcomed with much celebrations.
Wandering ghosts are not forgotten, they would be treated to delicacies and concerts. Steps are taken to appease the spirits because if ignored, they would wreck havoc. Rituals are performed in temples to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. My family would be at several temples to pray for them.
If you travel to Singapore during this period, you will see lots of festivities and celebrations.
We welcomed our ancestors home with a spread of their favourite food on the first day of their homecoming. The photo above shows the offerings by our relatives in China.
In Singapore, we will pay our respects to our ancestors tomorrow. So today is a busy day for my sister-in-law and I as we prepare the food offerings to our ancestor. It's our way of keeping the dead with us. We would like to think of them enjoying the delicacies.
On the 15th day is Ghost Day, we pray to our ancestors and all spirits. This day is said to be the most yin (darkest) and is great for black magic.
Many people think it is all superstitions. There are believers and non-believers. I am a Christian but as a Chinese, I want to learn more about our customs and traditions and try to keep them alive. I think some are just superstitious beliefs and tell my son so.
I keep an open mind, let others decide if it's superstition or there is some sense in it. I try to inject more colour to the lives of my son and the younger generations... when they grow up it is up to them to continue this practice or pooh-pooh it.
It is very important to my next generation, they must know their roots and our Chinese values. In every custom, there are lessons to be learnt. Learn from the positive things and enjoy the fun of the celebrations.
It doesn't matter if our ancestors are dead. We are here because of them. My ancestors were hardworking and wise. They are good models for their descendants and they ought to be remembered for their deeds and throughout the generations. I hope to preserve their good names and pass down their stories. Remembering them each year is a good way to teach our young to observe filial piety.
And then there are the getais (mini open air concerts) and traditional operas, one month of entertainment for the ghosts to keep them happy. This is the month that many people look forward to enjoying the colourful outdoor performances. Anyone can watch, it's open to everyone.... every race and nationality! It's a unique culture in Singapore. Go experience the noisy, wild side of Singapore! It comes only once a year.
I wish all the spirits, happy or otherwise, happy roaming.... enjoy your 30 days' visa as much as you can.
Next post : Dos and Don'ts during Hungry Ghost Festival
每年农历七月初一鬼门开, 地府让好兄弟们放假一个月出游人间, 我们家就会开始忙碌。在七月鬼月的第一天、第十五天和最后一天, 我们都要进行拜祭欢迎祖先返回阳间度假、跟亲人团聚一个月。
我们海南岛的亲人在家里祠堂祭祖，我们在新加坡的則会在明天拜拜。这天一整天我们都忙着准备祭拜的美食和供品。他们有时间可以去看看歌台和街戏, 希望祖先们在这一个月里吃得开心, 玩得尽兴!