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Monday, August 25, 2014, 14:53

Spirits roam during HK Ghost Festival

By Associated Press
Spirits roam during HK Ghost Festival

In this Aug 13, 2014 photo, Chinese opera performance is held at a makeshift theater during the "Hungry Ghost Festival" in Hong Kong. (Photo / AP)

HONG KONG - Countless hungry and restless ghosts are roaming Hong Kong, and the world, to visit their living ancestors, at least according to Chinese convention.

In traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is reserved for the Hungry Ghost festival, or Yu Lan, a raucous celebration marked by feasts and music. This year the festival began Aug 10. According to folklore, the ghosts who wander the physical world are ravenous and envious after dying without descendants or because they were not venerated by relatives who are still alive.

The hungry spirits need to be appeased, so ethnic Chinese around the world offer prayers to their deceased relatives along with sticks of joss, or incense. They also burn mock currency known as "hell money'' and other paper copies of material wealth such as TV sets, mobile phones and even iPads and iPhones, which the ghosts use when they return to the underworld.

Neighborhoods hold nightly shows of shrill Chinese operas and pop concerts, with the front rows of seats always empty reserved for the ghosts. The shows are accompanied by extravagant feasts of grilled pork, broiled chicken, rice and fruit. The offerings are made in the hope that the spirits will help them find good jobs, earn good grades or even with the lottery. The festival peaks on the 15th day of the lunar month the most auspicious when families offer cooked food to the ghosts.

Spirits roam during HK Ghost Festival

In this Aug 11, 2014 photo, a woman burns incense in front of a paper reproduction of the "Ghost King" at a makeshift altar during the "Hungry Ghost Festival" in Hong Kong. (Photo / AP)

Spirits roam during HK Ghost Festival

In this Aug 16, 2014 photo, an elderly collects counterfeit ancient coins from an altar, which are representing gold coins to ward off evil spirit away during the "Hungry Ghost Festival" in Hong Kong. (Photo / AP)

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