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Culture Insider: China's Ghost Festival

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-08-17 10:51 Comments

Culture Insider: China's Ghost Festival

People burn paper to honor the deceased on Zhongyuan Festival, at Yichang of Hubei province, August 27, 2015. [Photo by Zhou Jianping/Asianewsphoto]

The Zhongyuan Festival, also known as Ullambana Festival among Buddhists, falls on the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month, on Aug 17 this year.

Since ancient times, the Chinese have believed that the gates of hell open on that day and so people hold all kinds of activities to honor the ghosts. Therefore, the festival is also called the Ghost Festival.

There are two other festivals in China to honor departed spirits of ancestors: Qingming Festival (in spring) and the Chung Yeung Festival (in autumn). In both, living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors. Zhongyuan Festival is distinct from these, as the deceased are believed to visit the living.

Buddhist doctrine says that by offering articles on the festival day, deceased parents and relatives can be saved from bad situations in the after life. The Ullambana Festival of Buddhism has two meanings. One is to persuade people to provide for Buddhist monks. The other is to convince people to do more charitable deeds to release departed souls from sin and advocate family devotion.

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