GHOST FESTIVAL (ULLAMBANA FESTIVAL)

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Date: 2 September 2020

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Ghost month) in the lunar calendar. In chinese culture, on this day, it is believed that the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open, ghosts and spirits, including those of deceased ancestors, come to visit the living.

Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is veneration of the dead, 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 (often vegetarian meals), 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. Meals would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living.

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.

In Vietnam, the seventh month is known as month of lonely spirits, and believed to be haunted and particularly unlucky. The festival is considered as a time for the pardoning of condemned souls who are released from hell.

In the other hand, influenced by Buddhism, this day coincides with Ullambana (or Vu Lan in Vietnamese), and it is seen as Mother’s day. People with living mothers would bear a red rose and would give thanks while those without can choose to bear a white rose and attend services to pray for the deceased.

This festival is held in certain East Asia countries like as Japan (known as Obon), Indonesia (Cioko or scrambling player) or Malaysia and Singapore through concerts performed by groups of singers, dancers, entertainers and opera troops or puppet shows on a temporary stage.

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