Monday, September 06, 2010

The Last Day of the Hungry Ghost month

Today marks the last day of the month-long celebration of the Hungry Ghost festival for the Chinese community.

If you've noticed, it has been really cloudy and the rain have been pouring in torrents for the past few days, and yesterday started with heavy rain in the wee hours of the morning and the gloomy skies continue to loom for the entire day.

This morning was no different as the dark and heavy clouds were once again spotted instead of the bright and shining sun in the morning.

I remembered my grandma used to tell me about the weather forecast for this month; a belief or prophecy which have been passed down from generations.

It is believed that rain and dark clouds; not to mention gloomy weather will often preside over the month of the Hungry Ghost and also Qing Ming.
This is in conjunction with the atmosphere or the aura of these festivals which are related to the dead and also the spirits.

As you know, there are two elements; Yin and Yang whereby the Yang is always associated with brightness and warmth, while Yin is associated with gloom and darkness.

The spirits are categorized in the Yin element and therefore, during these months, the skies would be conditioned in the right atmosphere to commemorate the festivity of the honorable worship of dead ancestors and the spirits.

It is an interesting theory, isn't it?

Despite the drastic change in the local weather these days, there is still some truth in this grandma's old tale.

These few days' weather were also often predicted to be especially rainy and cloudy; due to the farewell of the spirits to the living world and how they are distressed with having to part with their loved ones (not to mention missing the month-long of vacation and partying; with full freedom to roam wherever they want)

In certain countries, they even set off paper boats or lotus lanterns to the sea with prayers and well wishes/blessings for their loved ones and wandering spirits on this last day.
It is to pray for their peace in wherever they may reside.

So, don't forget your raincoat and umbrella and drive safely, although it is the last day, precaution still needs to be taken as it is still in the same month.
I remembered asking my grandma once, "What happens if they don't wanna go back on the last day after a whole month of partying?"

Grandma said, "There are also law enforcers in their realm, which is why you see the deities being worshipped and stages being set up on streets. Although they have street opera and singing (getai), there is always a huge tent housing the fearsome and powerful deity who guards the spirits and the gate of Hell. Besides, didn't you notice the paper dolls at the side of the tent? Those are the police officers responsible to maintain peace and harmony among the living and making sure that the spirits do not misbehave. When the last day comes, these law enforcers multiply to usher them back to where they belong"

I asked, "They won't lose count of anyone? There are so many of them"

Grandma said, "No, my dear, they have their checklist/attendance register too. They can't escape. No one escapes their fate and the deities and 'police' see to that"

Okay, they have a system too down there, no wonder it is always a tearful farewell (pun intended) on the last day as they were reluctantly ushered back to their realm.

Let's pray for our loved ones and all those wandering spirits as the month comes to an end.

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