Hey, guys! Many of you asked about the Chinese Ghost Festival, so here's a video about it! The Ghost Festival, or Gui Jie, is different from Qing Ming Jie or Chong Yang Jie. For the latter festivals, living descendents pay homage to their deceased ancestors. On Ghost Day, the ghosts and spirits of the deceased visit the living world. Ooooh...!
The Ghost Festival is actually part of an entire month of events, dubbed Ghost Month, that occurs on the seventh month of the lunar calendar. The festival itself occurs on the 14th night or 15th day, depending on where you live in China. The festival has both Buddhist and Taoist origins.
In Buddhism, this holiday is called Yu Lan Pen. There's a story in Buddhism where Mu Lien, one of Buddha Shakyamuni's disciples, saved his mother from hell. Mu Lien's mother was greedy with the money he left her. He had instructed her to kindly host any Buddhist monks that ever came her way, but instead, she withheld her kindness and her money, and this was the reason why his mother's spirit was suffering in hell.
When Mu Lien found out, he traveled to the underworld in an attempt to free her from misery. He tried to relieve her hunger by giving her rice and water, but when it reached her mouth, it turned to fire. Buddha told Mu Lien that his mother's sins were too great to relinquish, and the only way to relieve her was to offer fruits and vegetables in the Yu Lan bowls, Yu Lan Pen, to monks on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. Through Mu Lien's merits, his mother finally reincarnated into a human!
Today monks hold rituals chanting prayers and offering fruits and drinks to relieve suffering ghosts. The underlying essence of this holiday is filial piety, showing respect to parents as well as showing respect to the ancestors.
The Taoist version of this holiday is called Zhong Yuan Jie. In the Taoist theory, the gates of hell are opened at midnight on the beginning of the seventh lunar month, allowing all the suffering spirits to roam the earth in search for food and entertainment until the end of the month—hence the term "Ghost Month."
Activities during the month would include: preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper...a paper-mache form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals, often vegetarian meals, would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family, treating the deceased as if they are still living. Most of the festivities are designed to protect the living from the roaming spirits. During this month, people will avoid activities such as swimming, moving house, traveling, and getting married in order to avoid possible disturbance by the ghosts, or bad luck.
Hey, guys! So those are some of the versions that we know about. If you guys know another version, let us know. And let us know if you actually celebrate this!