Friday, September 4, 2009

Hungry Ghost Festival - the Significance

If you were out late the past two nights, did you notice people praying by the roadside, lighting candles and joss-sticks and burning joss-paper and such?

Know what's the significance of that? You might have guessed it. Yep, the offerings are for the hungry and wandering ghosts. Remember this is the month of the Hungry Ghosts and the past two nights were designated prayer days being the 14th and 15th days of the lunar month.

Families who pray and make offerings by the roadside are doing it on a smaller scale partly because they are not in business thus are not participating in the grander scale like the ones in commercial districts of Chinatown or in Penang. In Penang, the whole island is abuzz with this activity. Read about the significnce of the Hungry Ghost Festival in my Malaysia blog. Phor Thor is the local name for this festival.

Image source:
Penang State Tourism Development, Culture, Arts and Heritage site


  1. Yupe! Hungry ghost festival is indeed very important. In fact a lot of businessman ackowledge this. :D

  2. i think there are less praying and offering by the roadside nowadays.. and the used-to-be chinese opera shows has mostly turn into modern karaoke singing concerts.. :)

  3. Tekkaus, that is true.

    SK, yeah lah, urbanisation has killed tradition sort of and there are now less places available to hold this activity.

    Chinese opera is a dying art thus it's not easy to engage a troupe for a performance. I suppose the spirits are also keeping up with the times.

  4. I wonder if beggars out there will take advantage and eat those food left for the hungry ghosts! : )

  5. Foong, they do. It kinda makes sense as they will all go to waste anyway. Dogs and cats (and others) feed on them as well.

    One disadvantage to this praying is that the food and other stuff will be strewn all over when the prayer is done messing up the place. Responsible folks will clean up the place the following day but not many people do that leaving the job to our street-cleaners.