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Day trip to Singapore – part III: The Hungry Ghost Festival

By on August 18, 2014 in Singapore

This was something odd I spotted in Singapore.

The first one I noticed was on the quayside and it looked like they had been burning something on the streets. Odd for Singapore as they are usually quite strict on this sort of thing…

What is going on?

What is going on?

Piles of burnt things...

Piles of burnt things…

More burnt things

More burnt things

Barrels for burning things in...

Barrels for burning things in…

Even more barrels

Even more barrels

And more burnt material

And more burnt material

Burning in a 'cage'

Burning in a ‘cage’

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The remains of some burnt things, and a plate

The remains of some burnt things, and a plate

So what is this all about?

Well, it is all part of the Ghost Festival, which is also known as the Hungry Ghost festival. The festival falls on the full moon of the 7th month of the Chinese calendar, and the ghosts are ‘hungry’ because they are no longer being venerated by their ancestors.

During the festival the gates of hell are opened and the hungry ghosts roam the earth, and unless they are provided with food and entertainment they will interfere with the lives of the living and bring misfortune. The living therefore provide food and entertainment!

The burnt material is ‘hell money’, which is valid in the underworld, and the barrels and baskets above all contained burnt ‘money’.

To feed the Hungry Ghosts food is left out…

Hungry Ghost food shrine

Hungry Ghost food shrine

Another food offering

Another food offering

Looking at the offerings is interesting as it appears that the ghosts like a mixture of coffee, cakes, cigarettes…

Food and drink for the Hungry Ghosts

Food and drink for the Hungry Ghosts

and quite a lot of sweets and candy…

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And finally…

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So don’t stick those chopsticks upright in your rice.

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
 

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  1. Wes says:

    I really enjoyed seeing how the Hungry Ghost Festival was celebrated in Singapore. Thanks for posting these great photographs. If you’re interested in seeing how I prepared here in the U.S., you can read my guide here: http://www.chineseholidays101.com/hungry-ghost-festival/

    • Nick says:

      Thanks for the comment. I see the festival is on the 28th this year, which explains why they are getting ready in my local town in Malaysia

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