Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And the gates of Hell shall depart beings unto our land!

The time is nigh and we've breached into the 7th Lunar month. What is the significance, you query? I shall now divulge and delve into the Chinese beliefs, tales of terror, and ultimately, the synonymous activities that take place on this auspicious, yet considered ominous, occasion.

Offerings laid out for the wandering spirits.
In Chinese culture, the Hungry Ghost Festival is a widely celebrated festival, and holiday to some, which falls on the 14th night during the 7th moon (month in Gregorian) in the Lunar Calendar. The Hungry Ghost Festival is the most important festival or celebration of the year besides the Chinese New Year. The Chinese believed that during the seventh month, the Gates of Hell are opened and ghost/spirits are free to wander in search for food. These ethereal beings can either be friend, foe, or family members long deceased. Those which are lost or have no home to go to are called "hoe heah ti" (good brother) in respect and of course ancestors know their way around.

Most Chinese homes will be holding a food fiesta to be offered to their respective ancestors which return to visit their descendants' home. After the feast, prayers, the burning of hell notes ("kim" (gold) and/or "gin" (silver)) and many other life's luxuries (handphone, TV, cars and homes) made of bamboo and paper (by the Chinese' industrious nature, the resemblance now is impeccable).
The burning of multiple paper-made items for the ethereal beings.
Festivities are also held for the wandering spirits in community halls, and marketplaces by the local businessmen and traders. Huge effigy of Phor Thor Kong or King of Hell is erected and sits majestically at the main table. From dawn till dusk, food offering are placed for the his lordship. For the hungry ghost, they get their share after the King of Hell is fed. Meanwhile, he ensures the hungry ghosts do not misbehave in the time they are on earth. Food offerings and prayers, including the burning of incense, and hell notes as token for the "good brothers" to enjoy and receive before they go on their way.

An effigy of his Lordship.
Multiple offerings laid out.
Mountains of offerings.
It is told that the King of Hell's offerings table is very auspicious and only food is to be placed on it. Children are told that He ate a baby who was accidentally placed by the mother on the table. When the mother returned to fetch the baby, he had turned black or blue.

Besides food offerings, one could enjoy the Chinese Opera and food stalls for us humans. On the last day of the month, modern day live concerts with pretty young girls wearing trendy attire, known as the "guo tai", are the highlights for us humans. Karaoke too can be heard and funny Mandarin or Hokkien pantomime is played to the delights of the older generations. Chinese operas for the King of Hell and live concert to appease the two worlds, the wandering ghosts and earthy beings.

The trendy ladies... As mentioned.
Traditional Chinese opera.
So for all those late nighters... Let's keep it indoors, for just this month, and to all the hard-core touge kaki... My sincerest apologies for my absence. I generally steer away from the touge on this occasion :)


kev said...

lol, im pretty superstition, but i once touge on the 14th, of the 7th month in the lunar calendar, thank god nothing happened to me.

tankae92 said...

Sure missed the "under the stage(HeePeKa)"'s stalls...

There's non in KL T_T

ScAvEnGeR said...

Hi Kev: Sadly my vow of non-touge had been broken. (Check on Monday for updates on this)

Hi Tank: I know.. There seem to be less and less even in the kampung areas. I guess society had moved on to digital entertainment and if not for the sexy dresses, the Hee Pneh would no longer exist :P