[Video] Chinese Ghost Festival for Traditional Chiu Chow Community
By Sharon Tang
People celebrate Halloween, the Western "ghost festival", by putting up costumes and be a part of the crowd. Funny as it is, the Chinese ghost festival is treated with more restraints as some may see it as a taboo and wish not to talk about ghosts.
This year's Yulan Festival of the Chiu Chow Community was held in Tai Kok Tsui, from Aug 23-25.
Tracing back to 46 years ago, the Chiu Chow people has already started the "Yulan Festival". In the festival, descendants burn joss sticks to worship gods, burn paper money to their ancestors. Lots people, regardless their origins, also burn paper money for "street ghosts". This is to show their respects to the ghosts so that they could keep themselves safe. More interesting is, there is a special Chinese opera performance as a way to entertain the "ghosts".
According to the Chinese tradition and the Lunar calendar, July is the month when the "ghost door" opens, which means the ghosts are allowed to come out to the human grounds.
Never should you think this event is dark and depressing. In fact, it is meaningful and joyful where different Chiu Chow families gather and chat about their lives. It is also a significant symbol showing how united the Chiu Chow people are.
"Standing in the shoes of us Chiu Chow people, we unite in such a event," said Mr Lum Wing-fat, a member of the Yulan Festival of the Chiu Chow Community Committee. "Sometimes we meet each other in the neighbourhood and forgot their names, or even do not know them."
"But when all of us gather here, we get along and work together closely." He said.
In the old days when lives were poor and people had few to eat, the Yulan Festival has started volunteering to give out food for free. This is continued until now as the "lucky rice" distribution. Elderly line up for it so that they could get the blessings from the Chinese gods as well as to feed their children well.
The Yulan Festival is still having its power and legacy in Hong Kong no matter you believe in the existence of ghosts or not. Every year during summer time in Yuen Long, Mong Kok or Yau Ma Tei and a lot more different places in Hong Kong, Yulan events go on to remind Chiu Chow people their unity and legacy, at the same time to help settle fears and doubts about ghosts in an entertaining way. As for the elder badge of Chiu Chow people, their greatest wish is having more teenagers to know about this tradition, to flourish the culture to the younger generation.
(Edited by ShanShan Kao.)
《The Young Reporter》
The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.
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