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Festival of the Hungry Ghosts

Do you believe in ghosts? The climax to this spooky festival (Yue Lan in Chinese) is on the 14th day of the seventh moon, the full moon. During this month, according to ancient Chinese tradition, the gates of Hades burst open, unleashing the spirits of the restless dead, or the Hungry Ghosts. Strange fires speckle the island and operas or concerts are performed for the pleasure of these departed souls.
One of the strangest manifestations of the Yue Lan Festival are the offerings that adorn the streets, graveyards and beaches. These take the shape of intricate paper models of worldly possessions and status symbols such as high-tech household goods or sometimes entire wardrobes and musical instruments. Paper money is also a very popular offering - these are called "hell banknotes" and are only valid in the underworld.

On the 14th day of the seventh month (the full moon) these offerings are burnt and fires and bonfires are visible all over Hong Kong, creating a truly eerie and wondrous spectacle. Kids generally love this part as they get to burn things without getting in trouble.

In Chinese culture the dead are often celebrated and rarely forgotten. It is considered a duty in Chinese life to honour them through a series of offerings, ceremonies and festivals. But when proper funeral rites have not been performed, then the trouble starts. It is believed the mischievous ghosts of these unfortunates vengefully roam the mortal world looking to satisfy the afterlife needs which were not afforded them in death.

On the nights of the seventh month, the Chinese are often afraid to go out for fear of encountering these ghosts. It is a brave Chinese person who ventures to the beach, for he may be lured into the water and drowned by the spirits of those lost at sea. The phenomenon of the Hungry Ghosts is said to explain the high level of catastrophes which are believed to occur in the seventh month of the Chinese year.
Festival of the Hungry Ghosts
Date:26 AUG 07
City:Hong Kong
Venue:Hong Kong
Address:Hong Kong
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