Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Zhōngyuán Jié 中元节 2016

The 15th lunar day of 7th Chinese lunar month is the Chinese Ghost Festival
Chinese Ghost Festival is also the Buddha's Ullambana Day

Customs - In China, people think on the Ghost month, the gate of hell will open to allow the ghosts and spirits go back to the living world. During the month, those have families will visit their families and those alone will roam on the street to seek food and entertainment.

Family members usually offer sacrifice to their deceased ancestors and relatives during the month and on the Ghost day. They are honored with delicious food three times a day on a table. The family’s ancestral tablets and photographs will be put on the table with incense burning near them. People also pay tribute to those unknown wandering ghosts with food and burn joss paper to please the ghosts on the 15th (some places on the 14th) day of the 7th lunar month to avoid the harm by them.

Buddhists and Taoists usually perform ceremonies on the day to help the ghosts ease the sufferings. They will set altars for them and chant scriptures. Monks often throw rice or some small foods into the air to distribute them to the ghosts.

On the evening of the Ghost day, people also make lanterns and float them on the river to help their relatives find their way back to home. The lanterns are usually lotus flower-shaped with light or candles. Some people also write their ancestors’ name on the lanterns.

Taboos - As the ghosts and the suffering spirits will come out from the hell to visit their homes during the 7th lunar month (the ghost month), many things should be avoided during this month including the ghost day:
  1. Don't stroll at night.
  2. Don't swimming. It is said that the drowned evil ghost might try to drown you in order to find victims for them to rebirth.
  3. As the month is considered to be inauspicious, don't move to new houses, start new businesses or marry.
  4. Don't hang clothes outside at night.
  5. Do not pick up coins or money found on the street and never bring it home.
  6. Do not step on or kick the offerings by the roadside. If you step by accident, you should apologize aloud to make it alright.
  7. Do not wear red because ghosts are attracted to red.
  8. Don't sing and whistle as these may attract ghosts.
  9. Keep away from the walls as it is believed that ghosts like sticking to walls.
  10. If you are born during the ghost month, avoid celebrating your birthday at night. It's better to celebrate during the daytime.
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