Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hungry Ghost Festival at Kampar, Perak

The Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival, held on the 15th night of the 7th month - which is generally August.

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.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Haze August 2015

The haze continues. I took this photo 18 August - the mountain range is missing. Compare it to a rare photo taken in May where there was a 'clear' view.

August 24 onwards the haze was dreadful in Perak when I was there.

Aug 27 the Star reported "The haze is expected to go on until mid-September with the peninsula’s west coast suffering the most from Indonesia’s open burning. The situation would likely continue until the southwest monsoon season ends. "


Sept update
Luckily I was overseas all of Sept, as I read the haze got worse.
From CNN Sept 16 2105 -

Haze affects Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia

More than 2,000 schools have been closed in Malaysia as the haze continues to hit dangerous levels.

And a report in Wikipedia


End of Sept and the haze worsened : Star reports :

Sunday September 27, 2015 API readings worsen throughout Malaysia

People choked as the air quality in the Klang Valley, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and parts of Sarawak deteriorated.Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and nearly all of Selangor were covered in thick haze, with a rapid rise in Air Pollutant Index (API) readings. In Petaling Jaya, the API doubled from 61 at noon to 123 at 7pm, while in Shah Alam it rose from 62 to 128 over the same period.

September 27, 2015 Haze: Schools in several states to close on Monday

The Education Ministry said that schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan and several parts of Sarawak will be closed on Monday.

September 27, 2015 Haze: API readings reached very unhealthy levels as of 9am Sunday 

PETALING JAYA: The air quality here and in areas like Port Klang, Shah Alam and Batu Muda has gone from bad to worse as the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings reached very unhealthy levels.
As of 9am Sunday, the API readings for Port Klang was 248, Shah Alam (268), Petaling Jaya (210)


I came back to KL from Cuba and the haze was dreadful, especially on 3 Oct.

Malay Mail 4 Oct :
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — The education ministry has ordered all schools in Peninsular Malaysia except Kelantan to be closed for the next two days amid a worsening haze crisis.

According to The Star Online, education minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the schools would be closed on October 5 and 6 (Monday and Tuesday).
The view, or lack of it, from my kitchen. Compare to the photo at top of page, Look at the tall single tree, The Zurich building is completely missing!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Greek chimney cowls that look like birds

Last year when I was on Crete, Greece, I was surprised to see chimney cowls that looked like birds. At first I thought it was just my imagination until I started seeing lots of them. This year I was on the Greek island of Zakynthos and again I saw these chimney cowls.

I googled them and found there is a manufacturer in Greece. There was no explanation, I assume it is just for decoration. These are what he produces -

And these are some of the chimney I saw. The first 2 I saw on Crete -

and these were on Zakynthos -

© Liz Price

No reproduction without permission

Blue moon July 2015

There was a blue moon in July 2015. It doesn't mean the moon turned blue, it means there are 2 full moons in one month. The first occurred on 2 July and I had already blogged about it here. Then on 31st July there was another full moon.

This blue moon was the first one since 2012 and the next one will  be in 2018.

Blue moons are due to the difference between calendar and lunar months. A calendar month is 28 - 31 days, but a lunar month is always 29.53 days long, i.e. the time interval between 2 full moons.