Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Looking for Hungry Ghosts

Some Chinese in Singapore believe that during the months of August and September, the "Gates of Hell" are opened and the souls of the dead are freed to roam the earth. These Taoists believe the ghosts of their ancestors return to their houses, hungry and ready to eat.The Hungry Ghost Festival is held to honor the hungry ancestor ghosts, and food and drink is put out to satisfy their needs. (Is it that far removed from Halloween?  :} )
Tonight we traveled down to Chinatown to look for some Hungry Ghosts - or at least some evidence that their descendants were looking after them. We found a few altars waiting for the ghosts to devour the food; the other tradition of burning paper effigies of the old folks' favorite things (BMWs, i-Pads, shirts, money, for example) wasn't happening tonight, but I know we will see some in the coming days.  Watch out!!  
 An altar with lucky numbers on display.

We found a shop specializing in paper "products" for the ancestors.  You buy them and then burn them for the old guys to enjoy in the afterlife...

 Shirts, lingerie, dresses, and money to burn!  Yes, they are made of paper...

And of course, grumpy old dead uncle needs an i-Pad to entertain him...

This is an altar at a popular restaurant area - the food is real - hot-off-the-grill fish, veggies, noodles, coffee, tea, and oranges, pineapples, cakes for dessert.  All surrounded by incense to entice the spirits.  Bon appetit!

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