Ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come back to visit the living.
We went to see the festival at Kampar in Perak, as they had won a Guinness Book of Records mention for the longest dragon made of rice.
On the 15th day of the Seventh Moon, the realms of Heaven and Hell are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals for the deceased. Ghosts are released from hell and are allowed to
come back to earth to roam the streets. They are hungry and need to be fed and entertained with theatrical performances. Although they come from hell, this is actually the place that all dead people go, waiting to be judged. This is probably equivalent to limbo in other cultures.
The ghosts who have family members will be taken care of by those living relatives. The spirits without living relatives are offered food and paper money on streets. The worst ghosts who are stuck in limbo are given ritual offerings.
This is the "Phor Tor" tent -
Some of the offerings -
This is the King of Hades/Hell, Ta Su Ya, and his attendants. Note the small Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin, on top of the king. This shows he is controlled by the passionate goddess, and that she, like many living women, has control over his behaviour and his unruly staff. Guan Yin is worshipped by both Buddhists and Taoists.
These are his spare clothes -
The horse has plenty of food -
These are the boats that bring the ghosts. Inside is a paper Guan Yin.
The rice dragon -
This house is for the ghosts to use -
Memorials of those who have died -
Later in the festival the paper offerings are all burnt. Activity peaks on the full moon 15th night [29.08.15]. The visitors from Hades must return to their domain.
This is followed by the Eighth month, when moon cakes and lanterns abound.