Hungry Ghost Festival

August 27, 2021

The Hungry Ghost Festival is on at the moment.  

“Ghost Month … is believed by devout Taoists and Buddhists … during this time of year the gates of hell are opened for a full month for hungry ghosts to roam the world of the living in search of food, money, entertainment, and possibly souls.”

When looking up the Hungry Ghost month online, I came across an article from a couple of years ago, published by the Taiwan News, a major paper which contains an English-language component.  That article lists the best time to pray and how and what to pray for.  For example, for the ancestors (祖先), it instructs the best time to pray is the first and 15th day of the 7th lunar month; “Before lunchtime, place copious amounts of food for the ancestors to feast on. For lunch, allow children and grandchildren to eat the food.”  

More information on the Hungry Ghost Festival is given here:

This ghost money is not restricted to the Hungry Ghost month. It is converted into Hell Bank Notes by burning or burying:

“Much like the traditional gold and silver paper, Hell Bank Notes serve as the official currency for the afterlife. Living relatives offer them to dead ancestors by burning (or placing them in coffins in the case of funerals) the bank notes as a bribe to Yanluo for a shorter stay or to escape punishment, or for the ancestors themselves to use in spending on lavish items in the afterlife.” 

It was the end of term, and Teacher Tang had arranged for us to be given a bus tour by Taipei Sightseeing, the hop-on hop-off bus service.  Teacher Tang paid for not just the bus ticket for me but also my lunch at a restaurant, a treat I deeply appreciated.

There was a young English woman, Florence; in the above photo she is sitting in the centre, with Teacher Tang on the left and Teacher Tang’s daughter on the right.  Florence comes from Oxford and is studying Chinese with a sub-major in French. 


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