The Ghost Festival In Hong Kong

Last month, it was the Ghost Festival in Hong Kong

If there’s something strange in your neigbourhood,

Who you going to call, Ghostbusters

If there’s something weird and don’t look good,

Who you going to call, Ghostbusters

So the Ghostbusters were called out and visited the Ghost Festival celebration at Shek Kip Mei.

What is the Ghost Festival?

The Ghost Festival falls on the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar calendar. It is believed that for the entire month, the door from the hell opens up and it is when all the ghosts and spirits roam on earth to haunt the people! On the 15th day of the month, the ghosts and spirits get hungry. People will offer food and burn paper money to keep them happy.

When I was a kid, I used to go to the communal cauldron at a local playground that the local council provided to burn peanuts and cigarette lighters for the ghosts. Without a doubt, giant fireballs exploded from the cauldron. Actually, I was being nice to the ghosts in case they were hungry and that they wanted to light up cigarettes at some point. (No, it was an excuse for me to be a pyromaniac!) I’ve seen other kids burning aerosol deodorant and bug spray cans just to make sure the ghosts smell nice and free of insect bites. How nice!

Typical things that are offered to the ghosts and spirits
Typical things that are offered to the ghosts and spirits

Of course, it is believed that anything that can be burnt will be received by the ghosts and spirits. People will burn anything including paper iphones, paper clothing, paper slaves and other things else. I’ve seen people commented on facebook recently where they said, “if you burn a paper car to the spirits, that all good! But you need to burn some petrol for them as well otherwise the car will render useless!” I loved the comment, but so far I’ve never seen people actually doing that.

Knocking at the Door of Hell

So when we arrived at the smoke filled playground, there were a few pop up templates and a massive pop up theater at the front to entertain the ghosts and human alike. I swear those smoke was carcinogenic and it would speed up the process of living human becoming ghosts. On the serious note, the Chinese opera was for the ghosts and traditionally the first few rows of seats were reserved for the ghosts.

In addition to the opera, there were other decorations in the playground, including a giant devil with eyes that will shoot death ray to people, giants incense sticks other random clothes.

Taboos During the Festival

Traditionally, there are many things that one should do in order to avoid getting the “negative” energy from the spirits or worst getting killed by a ghost. That include the following and for which I (as a ghostbuster) have broken many of them!

  • Swimming in water – apparently ghosts died from drowning will drag you into the water and kill you so they can have your body to reincarnate?! — I’ve broken that taboo by going stream trekking and diving
  • Hanging clothes outside at dark – apparently the ghosts will wear your clothes and leave behind negative energy, which will zap away the positive energy of a person — I’ve also done that for drying wet clothes after stream trekking and sea kayaking
  • Going out after dark – The ghosts will haunt you! But wait – the festival was at night!!!

All in all, the Ghostbusters survived this year and will take a holiday for the rest of the year until the next festival.

May the light of Buddha shine upon you, said the sign.
That must be the devil from hell! I swear it will shoot death ray from his eyes!
That must be the devil from hell! I swear it will shoot death ray from his eyes!

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