Its Ghost Month here in Singapore so you know what that means….oh wait, no you don’t (and neither did we)
It means that Heaven and Hell have opened and our ancestors are walking among us. As such, everyone puts out food, treats, shrines and offerings to appease them. Singapore takes it a little further and puts on concerts to entertain the dead, but it’s OK for the living to enjoy them as well. Everywhere you go you will see the metal oil drums which are used for people to burn offerings.
From our friend the Internet:
The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, is traditional Chinese festival and holiday celebrated by Chinese in many countries.
In Chinese tradition, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh 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. Distinct from both the Qingming Festival (in Spring) and Chung Yeung Festival (in Autumn) in which living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors, on Ghost Day, the deceased are believed to visit the living.
On the fifteenth day the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is ancestor worship, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors even after their deaths. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mâché form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals (often vegetarian meals) would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. Ancestor worship is what distinguishes Qingming Festival from Ghost Festival because the latter includes paying respects to all deceased, including the same and younger generations, while the former only includes older generations. Other festivities may include, buying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities.
So there you have it. Along with all this is a host of superstitions. Don’t stay out past midnight, don’t get married this month, and don’t move into a new house or apartment.
When walking home the other night, I came across a local concert near our HDB. When Paul passed by he said they were doing stand-up (in Chinese) when I passed by later, the woman on stage was singing “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston.
We’ll keep our peeled for any Ancestors if we are out past midnight, just in case.