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Old 24th August 2011, 08:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Why those hungry ghosts need to be appeased

Why those hungry ghosts need to be appeased



Instead of dismissing the Hungry Ghost Festival as a tradition rooted in folklore and superstition, a history professor says that modern-day rituals conducted to appease spirits and ghosts may have been a legacy of early China.

Paul Lim
Tue, Aug 23, 2011
AsiaOne


Even as the faithful offer prayers, put on the most spectacular getai shows, and organise lavish spreads to appease wandering souls during the Hungry Ghost Festival, many go through the rites of this Chinese tradition without knowing why the rituals are carried out.

But these rituals can be linked back to early Chinese civilisations, such as the Han Dynasty, a period when Chinese culture and society flourished as emperors created terracotta warriors modelled after their own armies to attend and protect them in the afterlife.

While the early Chinese believed in life after death, they also had a slightly different concept of the dead from modern Chinese today, and the "good brothers" that we often refer to now are not always what they seemed to be in the past.

Professor Lo Yuet Keung, Associate Professor at the Department of Chinese Studies, National University of Singapore pointed out that even though there has always been a universal belief in the human soul, the early Chinese believed that human beings had "dual souls".

The "dual souls" consisted of "po", referring to the intellectual power and mental faculties of a person, and "hun", the human emotions and feelings and source of consciousness.

This dual concept later evolved into a single entity after the introduction of Buddhism into China, and what subsequently came to be known as 'shen', or spirit.

When a person loses his 'po', his behaviour becomes erratic and his reasoning power and judgment suffers, eventually resulting in his death.

Professor Lo explained: "When a person dies a violent death or with grievances, his 'hun' may linger on to cause trouble. "

"The 'hun' then needs to be appeased with appropriate sacrifices."

The idea that a person's 'hun' can remain among the living to cause mischief has contributed to the popularity of the Hungry Ghost Festival, even until today.

"The belief in a unitary soul that could survive death into a new life through reincarnation continues until today in many Chinese communities over the world.

"This is one of the reasons why the Ghost Festival became popular in China in the first place," he added.

The belief that souls linger on after death also led to the early Chinese attempting to summon a deceased person's soul for ancestor worship.

"A spiritual tablet would be set up for him in the family shrine so that if and when a deceased's soul came back, it could dwell within the tablet.

"His family would pay sacrifices to the tablets in the shrine periodically and this is an important part of what we call ancestor worship," Prof Lo said.


10 do's and don'ts during the Hungry Ghost Festival

For the superstitious who are wary of encountering the "good brothers", here is a list of do's and don'ts compiled by AsiaOne to make sure you do not run the risk of bumping into them:

1) Don't step on roadside offerings

The offerings are laid out for a reason; to appease the hungry ghosts. No one likes it if someone else steps on their food.

2) Leave the front row empty during 7th month performances

Don't infringe on the spaces left empty for the "good brothers" during "getais"! The superstitious believe that the front row seats with the best views are left empty for the wandering spirits to enjoy the singing and dancing performances.

3) Don't stay out too late or wander around alone in deserted, unfamiliar places at night

Some believe that this month is a bad time to be out and about at the early hours of the day, especially in unfamiliar, deserted places because of the presence of spirits.

4) Don't let anyone pat you on the shoulder, or turn around when someone calls your name

A sudden pat on the shoulder, or an unfamiliar voice calling your name, could be a spirit playing ghostly tricks. Turning around when either happens may result in the person being possessed.

5) Don't wear red or black

The "good brothers" are attracted to these colours. Wear other colours instead.

6) Don't tell ghost stories

Ah, the favourite pastime of teenagers in holiday chalets or army boys whiling away time in their barracks. Beliefs have it that talking about ghosts and spirits will instead attract them to you. Legend has it that they will sit along side you and listen while you talk about them.

7) Avoid travelling by plane, bus or boat

The superstitious believe that bad luck may fall upon travellers who take the plane or other forms of transport, resulting in accidents.

8) Avoid swimming, camping trips or jungle trekking

Some believe that vengeful spirits who lost their lives, or just being plain mischievous, will cause drowning accidents or physical injuries.

9) Don't open new businesses or move into new homes

Superstitious businessmen believe that new businesses or ventures started this month may face bad luck in business dealings. Families moving into new homes may also face bad luck.

10) Knock on the door or say "Excuse me" before entering hotel rooms

In the event that you really need to be staying in a hotel during this month, knock politely on the door or say "excuse me" before entering the hotel room.

Source: http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%...23-295865.html

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Old 24th August 2011, 10:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Why those hungry ghosts need to be appeased

Originally Posted by *StarDust* View Post
[B]

The "dual souls" consisted of "po", referring to the intellectual power and mental faculties of a person, and "hun", the human emotions and feelings and source of consciousness.

This dual concept later evolved into a single entity after the introduction of Buddhism into China, and what subsequently came to be known as 'shen', or spirit.

When a person loses his 'po', his behaviour becomes erratic and his reasoning power and judgment suffers, eventually resulting in his death.

Professor Lo explained: "When a person dies a violent death or with grievances, his 'hun' may linger on to cause trouble. "

"The 'hun' then needs to be appeased with appropriate sacrifices."

The idea that a person's 'hun' can remain among the living to cause mischief has contributed to the popularity of the Hungry Ghost Festival, even until today.

"The belief in a unitary soul that could survive death into a new life through reincarnation continues until today in many Chinese communities over the world.
The belief in reincarnation (particularly in Chinese folks Taoism) was a result of the introduction of Buddhism in China.

For the duo soul "hun po 魂魄", it generally refers to the body that constitute the intellect (po 魄) and spirit that constitute the emotions and feelings (po 魂). In Taoism, the "po 魄" belongs to Yang breath (Yang Qi 阳气) while the "hun 魂" belongs to Yin breath (Yin Qi 陰氣). Balancing the Yin and Yang constitutes good health. When a person die, a person's po (being Yang) returns to the heaven while the hun (being Yin) returns to underground.

In Taoism, the "hunpo 魂魄" can be further expanded into 3 "hun 魂" and 7 ""po 魄" (also known "San hun qi po 三魂七魄 ". When a person die, the 7 po first disintegrate. Then the 3 hun will leave.

The 3 hun and 7 po are as follow:

3 hun 三魂:

a) Celestial Hun 天魂

b) Terrestial Hun 地魂

c) Life Hun 命魂

7 po 七魄:

a) Celestial nature 天魄

b) Intelligence 灵慧魄

c) Breath 气魄

d) Strength 力魄

e) Central body 中枢魄

f) Spirit 精魄

g) Courage 英魄

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Last edited by General_Zhaoyun; 24th August 2011 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 24th August 2011, 11:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Why those hungry ghosts need to be appeased

Thanks for enlightening us!
I often wonder whether it's due to believing in another religion that caused me
not to feel anything anymore for this festival..

Originally Posted by *StarDust* View Post
10 do's and don'ts during the Hungry Ghost Festival

For the superstitious who are wary of encountering the "good brothers", here is a list of do's and don'ts compiled by AsiaOne to make sure you do not run the risk of bumping into them:

1) Don't step on roadside offerings

What about those poor people sweeping the offerings daily to ensure we actually can walk to our workplace?

2) Leave the front row empty during 7th month performances

Leave the 1st row for the elderly. Prepare ambulance in case performers faint.

3) Don't stay out too late or wander around alone in deserted, unfamiliar places at night

They dont visit 24hr Mcds right?

4) Don't let anyone pat you on the shoulder, or turn around when someone calls your name

Snap ur fingers over ur shoulder to relight the fires, if not Mahjong very suay..

5) Don't wear red or black

Emo people please take care..

6) Don't tell ghost stories

Disbelieve this belief... Only deprive us from entertainment..

7) Avoid travelling by plane, bus or boat

SBS and SMRT?

8) Avoid swimming, camping trips or jungle trekking

Your bathtub not safe either.

9) Don't open new businesses or move into new homes

No wonder they dont let me play the Sims this month...

10) Knock on the door or say "Excuse me" before entering hotel rooms

Knock knock knocking on heaven's door?
In.. case... u.. chance upon... Pitbull's Hotel Room Service~

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Old 24th August 2011, 10:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Why those hungry ghosts need to be appeased

end of ghost month coming in a few more days time

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Old 25th August 2011, 10:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Why those hungry ghosts need to be appeased

7 Days more to go!!~

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Old 25th August 2011, 03:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Why those hungry ghosts need to be appeased

7 more days to go.... and the Hungry ghost Festival is over

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