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    Posted August 9, 2014 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Life in China

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    Taiwan's Month-Long Ghost Festival Draws to an End


    The sound of singing and the odor of incense smoke hang thickly in the air in Taiwan as the month-long traditional Ghost Festival (盂蘭節) draws to an end.
    The Ghost Festival (known among some as the Hungry Ghost Festival) is Zhong Yuan Jie or Yu Lan Jie (盂蘭節), which is a traditional Taoist and Buddhist festival held in many Asian countries. On the Chinese lunar (or agricultural) calendar, the Ghost Festival is held on the 15th night of the seventh month.

    During this holiday ghosts and spirits, including those of deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realms. On the fifteenth day the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Buddhists and Taoists perform rituals to absolve the sufferings of the deceased.
    Characteristic of this festival is veneration of the dead, where traditionally the filial piety of ancestors’ descendants is offered to the ancestors even after their deaths. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mâché form of material items such as money, clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors.

    Elaborate (often vegetarian) meals are served with empty seats for each of the deceased, treating them as if they were still living. Other festivities may include releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts, spirits, ancestors and deities.

    Reference: Wikipedia
    Photos: © 2014 John Melendez

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