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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The H**ny Ghost Festival?

I know it’s not very timely to write about the 7th month, now that it’s over. I feel less creepy writing and you feel less eerie reading, because we all know that “they” are supposedly back in the underworld already, right?

When I was younger, I disliked the 7th month because this is the period where most of my friends
1) can’t go out late (MISCONCEPTION! The Others appear in the day too!From personal experiences)
2) can’t swim (presence of wet ghosts, you won’t want anything kinky).

But I like it that they

3) can’t wear red underwear too, means I can win them in Majong because I’m therefore LUCKIER because i don't believe in it and wear red! (Red underwear is supposedly linked to females who died wrongfully. On other days, it symbolizes luck (especially on Chinese New Year) but in the 7th month, the Others might mistake you as one of them).

There’s a lot more Do-Not(s).

4) Don’t bathe at night (no problem for the Europeans, they only bathe once in the morning)

5) Don’t pick up hitchhikers, no matter how beautiful (poor Taxi Uncles work in ghastly fear during this month!)

6) Don’t urinate elsewhere other than the toilets (ok, seriously you shouldn’t urinate in public even if it’s not the 7th month. Then again, what if the public toilets are built on cemeteries? Or what if someone committed suicide before in that toilet? Died during childbirth, unwanted pregnancy…)
Oh oh! It’s TRUE STORY time!
When I was 14, we had outward bound camp in some ulu place (east coast? Don’t remember. All I know was this fatso couldn’t take the regime and TRIED escaping out of camp. Only to find himself walking endlessly to the main road. In the end was brought back to camp by a passing truck.)
One evening, Sim Huat came scrambling back to the dinner table, his face all white. He told us he was doing ‘big business’ in the cubicles, when he heard little girls giggling next door. He hurriedly pulled his pants up and bolted out. We asked if he wiped his ass.
7) Don’t turn back if someone calls your name (oey, left your phone/money behind!!)

8) Don't renovate, move,or throw house parties
I find this whole festival very intriguing and somewhat proud of Asia’s superstitions because that’s what makes us uniquely exotic. Spooky and mysterious.

Although it’s kinda odd how Eastern and Western beliefs clash though. My friend who’s friend (ahhh..always this friend’s friend’s friend story *rolls eyes*) went on a Singapore Paranomal Tour and they brought them to a cemetery at 2am (刹气很重 strong evil presence). The guide asked if anyone dared to stand at the junction and sell salt to The Others. My friend’s friend volunteered. Head bowed, she held both hands up and started mouthing her mantra “Salt for sale, Salt for sale. $50 only. Can give discount! Come, Come!”

The group stayed behind and put on their special goggles and watched as white orbs surrounded her.

Later on that week, my friend’s friend picked up a $100 note on the floor of the shopping mall.

By the way, I also picked up $1 coin from the streets today!
Safe to keep? I used it to buy curry puff liao.
Are ghosts categorized according to race and culture or do they fall in one general category? According to the Chinese beliefs, salt is energy to The Others. That’s why for the brave souls who sell salt to them, they get “rewarded”. However, in the Western beliefs, salt is used to fend off ghosts. To keep them from coming close, you sprinkle salt in a straight line or around you for protection. If you’re a Chinese and living in America, will you use salt to defend yourself or will using salt strengthen its powers? What a dilemma!

The Hungry Ghost Festival is an interesting part of the Chinese culture. To put it simply, it’s like a public holiday to The Others. It happens only once a year for them & it is very precious for them. During this period of time, the gates of hell will be opened & all the ghosts from hell will be released back into our human world.

During this period of time, they will visit their family members, descendants, relatives, friends etc... by going to your home, work place....

They will also roam around & look at the changes of the human world since the last time they were human in this world. At the same time & in the process of it, they will go around to have "Fun" in our human world.

During this time, humans believe they have to be extra careful and the Chinese will burn offerings in exchange for their blessings & protection as well as to keep them happy (thus explains the Getai shows) so that there will be no trouble in the human world.

Speaking of which, I came across this Ang Moh Website that sells novelties gifts, guess what I found?
My eyes popped when I first saw the thumbnail that sorta resembles the things Chinese burn for the dead and the first thing that came to my mind was….DO THESE ANG MOHS KNOW WHAT THEY’RE SELLING AS PRESENTS?! They must think these are like paper dolls, you know, the sort where you play as kids.

On closer look at the description, I heave a sigh of relief, they DO know what they’re selling. Still odd that they’re selling them, but I suppose that’s how technology connects people right? What if a Chinese living in an IGLOO in NORTH POLE needs to burn some offering to their relative (never mind that they’ll melt their house down)? Only way to get them is to order online and fly them in. Although, can someone be more personal and cheap skate in hand-making their own? You know, like instead of buying a ready-made birthday card from Hallmark ($6), you make your own birthday card ($0 + priceless effort).


Chinese Paper Women's Clothing (13 USD)
These paper items were designed to be burned as an offering for your relatives in the afterlife. Each paper blouse is fancy enough for any lady to wear in the afterlife. It should be noted that this is not an actual blouse, so don't order this thinking you're going to add to your wardrobe. Life-size. Styles will vary

Chinese Paper Deluxe Men's Clothing and Accessories (USD 30)

These paper items were designed to be burned as an offering for your relatives in the afterlife . This set includes three shirts, a sweater, a pair of shoes, three gold bars, cash and jewelry. In other words, everything you need to be rich and powerful in the afterlife. It should be noted that you cannot wear the shirts and shoes, so don't order these hoping to add to your wardrobe. Life-size. Styles will vary

I love how comically the descriptions are, that’s what I admire about the Westerners. To them, there’s nothing such as taboo. They say it as they mean it, and speak what they think. There’s a shop downstairs my house that sells incense and paper offerings (by the way, under the VOID DECK is NOT AN ENGLISH WORD. Singaporean English teachers never really know whether to penalize it or not, since under the void deck is commonly used.) I always found it spooky to walk across this shop, yet I’m very intrigued to peek at what they sell.

Roast Meats complete with dipping sauce.

Dim Sum for Sunday mornings with a newsPAPER, no less.
I do know that it’s getting more and more advance in the variety of offerings. They have rolex, mobile phones (no Iphone yet) and laptops. They now have celebrity marriage certificates too.

As you may or may not know, human-ghost marriages do exist amongst the Chinese culture. So do arranged marriages among two undead can be organised. Since the dead are already getting companions, why not make the companions a famous one? Vendors are now offering “Celebrity Marriage Certificates.”
CNN reports for only RMB 50 your ancestors could be shacking up with Lady Gaga or Maggie Cheung in the afterlife. The certificates even say “Approved by United Nations” and include a serial number, because those endorsements count in the afterlife too, you know.

I wonder if they have paper passports too. Anyone saw before?

Antique World Leaders Hell Money (15 USD)

These Chinese Hell Bank Notes were designed to be burned as an offering for your relatives in the afterlife. This set includes an assortment of 7 notes featuring the faces of Lyndon B. Johnson, J. V. Stalin, John F. Kennedy, N. S. Khrushchev, Ho Chi Minh, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harold Wilson. Very limited stock!

Guess everybody loves cash.

Speaking of offerings getting more advance and modern, every 7th month, there's so much smoke that it triggers asthma, sinus and pollution. I thought of this idea the other day, if we're all "modern" now, how about electronically burning offerings via a digital photo frame?

We load all these pictures of delicious food, latest runway fashion (no more obiang paper blouse design), and as they disappear to the next photo, you mentally imagine burning these to your beloved deceased. How? You think my business idea can take off?

I’ve never sat through a Getai (shows supposedly to entertain the ghosts primarily, humans second) and I want to! The shows are very racy and saucy, or so I’ve heard and seen in our tabloids. The recent uproar was how some Association’s chairman (an old uncle) was cajoled to slot the red packet into the cleavage of a Getai singer!
Getai used to be all glittery and glitzy performances, but of late, people have noticed the change in costumes and content. The industry says it’s changing with the times whilst the older organizers blame the young organizers for creating this sexy formula. The human audiences definitely aren’t complaining (except for uptight parents and 40 year old virgins), I don’t think The Others will either.

When the Festival is over, the Others are expected to report back to hell willingly. Any escape attempts will be thwarted by the guards from hell and they will be severely punished.

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