07 October 2010

Hungry Ghost Month

Coca cola! And oranges, apples, and that orange bread thing with incense sticking out.

I was in Singapore during Hungry Ghost Month. From August into Septmeber, I saw weird breadstuffs and smelled resinous incense everywhere.

Praying in front of an elaborate feast, which includes Yakult.

A mind-blowing array of food.

Baby bottles for dead babies.

That means (I later learn) that I will routinely come across banquets laid out for invisible dead people, have whiffs of various burning matter, and, if lucky, observe raucous koh-tai presentations in tented fields among Singapore's immaculately clean, vertically dense suburbs. All these are meant to appease, pay respect to, and help the spirits out. They are, by the way, believed to be roaming the earth at this period, having stepped out of the Gates of Hell (purportedly open during Hungry Ghost Month).

A burning frenzy.

Quite a sight are the large drums placed in public places which people continually burn things in. They are always putting joss paper in, to represent money. Transforming joss paper from solid into gaseous form represents an attempt to bring the comfort of money into the spirit life. This can be a little confusing for foreigners such as my cousin, who, when she arrived in Singapore, thought that the out-of-service drums were garbage cans, and began throwing her rubbish in.

Joss paper, or false paper money, for burning. This brings good luck to spirits.

Fanning money out, in preparation for burning.

Drums for burning things, not in use at the time.

A hanging incense holder along a building hallway.

Incense in a bread thing and coffee.

More coffee and incense. Plus pineapple and banana.

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