» 08/17/2012, 00.00
TAIWAN - CHINA
Ghost month: superstitions and good business
In the seventh lunar month the spirits of the dead roam free. Children, young people and adults try to placate and guard against them with offerings of food, paper notes, prayers. An ancient tradition.
- "The gates of the underworld open for a month and release the souls of the
dead, so we have to feed them while they are in our world"; with
great care a child of seven or eight explains the practice behind the
traditional month which starts today, while his mother fills the shopping cart at
the supermarket. Shops
and supermarkets each year, before the beginning of the seventh lunar month
(which this year begins today, Friday, Aug. 17), stock up on food items and display
them in bumper value packs for the ease of customers . "In
addition to pleasing the spirits, this makes people happy, and happy customers
make us happy too: it's also a good business there is no doubt," smiled
the manager of a large supermarket in one of the most populated districts in
the city. In
addition to business, he is very diligent in keeping the spirit and celebrating
Chinese tradition, the festival of the spirits is celebrated on the 15th of the
seventh lunar month (zhong yuan jie), which corresponds to August 31 this year,
and is celebrated on the night of 14 (or the night of 15 in northern China). In
Taiwan, the entire seventh lunar month is celebrated as the "month of the
spirits" or "ghosts" (yue gui). The
first day of the seventh lunar month the doors of several temples are opened:
they represent the gates of hell and for this reason the spirits of the dead
can go out for a month and wander among the houses of the living. On
the twelfth day the lamps on the main altar are lit, while during the
thirteenth day there is a procession with lanterns. The
fourteenth day is a moving celebration with the release of lamps on waterways, rivers
or the sea.
are made to the deceased to petition them for help but also to placate them. In
Hong Kong and Taiwan, for example, people do not go swimming: it is believed
that the spirits of drowned may seek company... drowning some hapless innocent!
Ding (丁), who
teaches Chinese history at the state high school, explains that "the
origins of the 'yue gui' are very old, coming both from Chinese folk religions
and Taoism: Buddhism also celebrates the Ullambana (feast day of the
dead) on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. " Traditionally
during this month all traveling, moving, weddings are avoided even if today the
younger generation feels freer to decide otherwise.
the evening, while I'm buying the coffee for the next day, another boy is all
intent on choosing copies of colored paper notes that will then be burned as a
gift to the spirits: "This month I will pray even harder: the spirits are
sure to help me ... ". His
Mother replied: "in addition to praying more, you should also study more:
tian zhu zhu zi (heaven helps those who help themsleves)," as the saying
goes in many languages and culture.
Shaolin Temple plans to expand in China
It has taken on the administration of four more temples in Yunnan, and is talking about expanding its system of "advanced administration." But many accuse it of being only a commercial operation.
Holy month means big business in Beirut
Ramadan-related events draw serious revenue and criticism.
23/04/2009 TAIWAN - CHINA
Direct flights between China and Taiwan will be increased for the sake of more profit
The idea is to double them to more than 200 per week. Behind the desire for closer relations is also pure economic calculation by the Chinese airlines, which are looking to tap in to a lucrative market.
24/03/2004 TAIWAN - CHINA
Chen Shuibian responds to accusations. Go ahead given to investigate and recount votes
17/03/2004 TAIWAN - CHINA
Cries for war and peace at election time
Pope: together with the faithful in China on 24 May to celebrate Our Lady of Sheshan
During the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis speaks about the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, instituted by Benedict XVI. Chinese Catholics must make a “personal contribution to communion among believers and to harmony in the whole society." AsiaNews Symposium on the Church in China is set for this week. Francis appeals for peace in the Central African Republic, and for loving “one another following the example of the Lord”. For him, “Sometimes conflicts, pride, envy, and divisions leave a blotch on the beautiful face of the Church.” Five new cardinals will be named, including a bishop from Laos.
May 24, 2017: 'China, the Cross is Red', AsiaNews Symposium
The event will be held to mark the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. A title with many meanings: the Cross is red from the blood of the martyrs; From attempts to suffocate the faith with state control; Bceause of the contribution of hope that Christianity gives to a population tired of materialism and consumerism that is seeking new moral criteria. The theme is also about the great and unexpected religious rebirth in the country. Guests to include: Card. Pietro Parolin, Msgr. Savio Hon, the sociologist of religions Richard Madsen, the testimonies of Chinese priests and laity.
18/05/2017 ASIA - VATICAN
16/05/2017 CHINA-NORTH KOREA
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.