17 September, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 08/17/2012
TAIWAN - CHINA
Ghost month: superstitions and good business
by Xin Yage
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.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - "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 the month.

In 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.

Offerings 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!

Professor 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.

In 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.

 


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
11/28/2008 CHINA
Shaolin Temple plans to expand in China
11/05/2004 LEBANON
Holy month means big business in Beirut
04/23/2009 TAIWAN - CHINA
Direct flights between China and Taiwan will be increased for the sake of more profit
03/24/2004 TAIWAN - CHINA
Chen Shuibian responds to accusations. Go ahead given to investigate and recount votes
03/17/2004 TAIWAN - CHINA
Cries for war and peace at election time

Editor's choices
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.