Chung Yuan -Hungry Ghost Festival 2012

| July 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Chung Yuan -Hungry Ghost Festival 2012

 When: 15th day of the seventh lunar month( Falls August 31st in 2012)

Where: China, with variations in Japan, Viet Nam, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia


The Chung Yuan (Hungry Ghost Festival) has Buddhist origins from India but later took on Chinese cultural references.

A Buddhist monk, Mahāmaudgalyāyana, who became one of Buddha’s chief disciples, began to think about what happened to his parents when he achieved arhatship, or a certain stage of enlightenment. He use his clairvoyant powers to find out what had happened to his parents, but to his dismay, he saw one of them, his mother, in the realm of the hungry ghosts as a result of her withholding kindness to monks passing her way.

Mahāmaudgalyāyana sought the advice of Buddha on how to make up for his mother’s shortcomings, and to feed her while she is in another realm. When this ritual crossed boundaries, the Chinese directed food offering to their ancestors.

About the Event:

The Chinese believe that the seventh month of the lunar calendar is ‘ghost’ month. They believe that the gates of the underworld are open during this time of the year, and ghosts roam around among the living to settle old scores or simply to scare people.

To appease these wandering ghosts, families throw out parties halfway through the month. They hang or float lanterns to guide these spirits to the banquets and opera performances. The guests are reserved a seat, so an empty chair in a dinner table means that it is reserved for the departed member of the family.

Streets and cemeteries are filled with paper models of worldly goods and model banknotes known as “hell money.” When night comes, these paper models are burned so they manifest on the other side.

The Chung Yuan (Hungry Ghost Festival) is celebrated on the 15th night (14th in southern China) of the seventh lunar month in China and in countries with sizable Buddhist population. The festival falls on August 31 this year.

Travel Tips:

The superstitious Chinese won’t be seen near water on the occasion of Chung Yuan (Hungry Ghost Festival) for fear that waiting spirits may drag them underwater. Whistling is also a taboo during this time of the year. Vacant seats on a dinner table should not be taken because these are reserved for the ‘visiting’ departed member of the family.

To see the thickest wads of ‘hell money’ and the thickest burning smoke at night, travelers may want to head to the big cities. Tourists in Hong Kong can go to the beach during daytime, but they should leave before dark.

Final Thoughts:

The Chung Yuan (Hungry Ghost Festival) is a colorful celebration of ancestor worship. Despite the modernization of China, they still value close-knit family ties, even with those who are no longer with them.



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Category: Calendar, China Festivals, China Public Holidays 2012, Chinese holidays, Holidays 2012, International Festivals, Taiwan holidays

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