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About hungry ghost festival

Also known as the Seven Month, as it occurs in the seven month of the Chinese lunar calendar, the Taoists (a religious denomination of the Chinese) take this traditional festival in Singapore very seriously. Founded on the belief that the month of the hungry spirits is the most inauspicious month of the year.  They believe that it is this time of the year where the gates of hell open and spirits begin to wander freely among the living on Earth.

They are also extremely cautious in every way possible. Children are warned to stay indoors late at night; closing business deals and purchasing properties are considered acts that will bring bad luck; and even the stock market has been said to remain rather inactive during this period of time.

The Taoists would burn joss sticks and candles, give offerings of cakes, fruits and meats to appease the hungry ghosts and sometimes have paper-made money, cars, houses, clothes and mobile phones burnt so that the spirits are able to enjoy the equivalent of these luxuries in their afterlife.

Even businesses take measures to observe this sacred festival. Many religious business owners, including those of small stalls and coffee shops, would gather their employees to contribute their share of offerings of food items such as rice, cooking oil and tidbits. In their belief that by offering food to the hungry ghosts, their businesses would not be 'disturbed' by the spirits.

Putting aside the stringent rituals is the glitz and glamour of the Hungry Ghost festival. Yes, you heard it right. The Chinese would without fail, organize what they call 'getai', which is translated to 'song stage'. This is an event held in various parts of Singapore whereby a stage is set up for performances of dance and song with lots of bright lights and blinding colours.

The purpose of holding a getai is generally to entertain the ghosts while they roam the earth. That is why you will find that the first two rows of seats are often left unoccupied - or rather, occupied by the spirits.

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