The Unlock of the Gate of Hell
(14 August to 12 September 2015)
The Hungry Ghost (Yu Lan) festival, which had been inscribed on to China’s third national list of intangible cultural heritage in 2011. The seventh month in the lunar calendar is when restless spirits roam the earth when the gate of Hell opened on 1 day of the seventh month.
Urban Legend – July 1-15 “The Open of gates of hell”
Many Chinese people make efforts to appease these transient ghosts, while ‘feeding’ their own ancestors. While the festival’s origins are not unlike those of Halloween in Europe, it is also intrinsically linked to the Chinese practice of ancestor worship. Many people tending roadside fires and burning faux money and other offerings for ghosts and ancestors to use in the afterlife. Food is also left out to sate the appetite of the hungry ghosts.
One of the main highlights of the festival is the Chinese operas, usually held on temporary bamboo stages, performed to praise the charitable and pious deeds of the deities.
Chiu Chow (Chaozhou) – Keeping The Hungry Ghost Festival alive
Around 1.2 million people originating from Chiu Chow (Chaozhou) in China’s Guangdong province live in Hong Kong. During the Hungry Ghost Festival, they organise their own Yu Lan Ghost Festival, which runs for the entire seventh lunar month. The festival has been held for over 100 years.
In neighbourhoods across Hong Kong, during this month you’ll see Chiu Chow people occupying parks, piazzas, pitches and other sufficiently spacious places to set up “Yu Lan Ritual” where they offer sacrifices to their ancestors and the hungry ghosts, burning incense and joss paper, distributing free rice, and performing live Chinese operas and Chiu Chow-style dramas for ghosts in need of a bit of entertaining.
For more details about the event, please visit: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/events-festivals/chinese-festivals/the-hungry-ghost-festival.jsp
Image credit: Anthony Kwan/For Hong Kong Images