(4) Life – Chinese Ghost Month / 生活 (4) – 中元节

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中元节是华人传统的节日,它也叫孟兰节或鬼节。传说农历七月鬼门关大开,被禁放出来的孤魂野鬼,会到处去觅食,于是人们借助祭拜仪式,祈求游魂得到他们的保佑。

Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Chinese festival, which is also call a Mong Lang Festival or Ghost Month.  The Chinese believe that during the Seventh Lunar Month, the Gates of Hell are opened and spirits are let out to roam the earth for 30 days foraging for food.  Believers will arrange worship ceremony to pray and appease the spirits in return to get their blessings.

另一个说法是源自于佛教故事;释迦牟尼佛的弟子目犍连拥有神通,他妈妈生前做了很多坏事,死后变成饿鬼。目犍连知道后用法力将食物拿给母亲吃,但食物到了妈妈的嘴边却化成灰烬。目犍连非常伤心,向释迦牟尼佛求助。佛陀告诉他,必须以众僧的力量,在7月15日把百味五果放入盆中,以此才能济度他母亲。最后目犍连依照佛陀的指示,他母亲终于得到解救。

Another saying is derived from a Buddhist tale.  Moggallana a disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha had supernatural powers and his mother during his lifetime did a lot of bad things.  She became hungry ghosts after her death.  Moggallana used his supernatural ability to offer food to his beloved mother, but whenever the food touches her mouth it turned into ashes.  He was heartbroken and seek help from Sakyamuni Buddha.  The Buddha told him to draw on the power of the monks, and on this very day of 15th of the Seventh Month to place five types of grains into a pot so as to appease his mother.  Moggallana act in accordance to the Buddha’s instruction and his mother was finally rescued.

从此,祭拜的形式一代传一代,种类也演变成多样化。流行于新马一带的歌台也是其中一种演变出来的祈福仪式。仪式通常由一些工会,小组织联合主办。他们会临时搭建一个有蓬盖的小舞台,找一些知名的主持人和艺人载歌载舞,再配搭劲爆的音乐,效果非常平民化与富有娱乐性。庆典的目的是给那些孤魂野鬼观赏,所以你会发现观众的前排椅子是空着的。这种表演仪式慢慢形成一种,有7月必有歌台的风气。

From then on, the form of worship passed from generation to generation, and it evolve into diversity.  Getai (a live stage performance) is one of the ritual evolution of the festival and is popular both in Singapore and Malaysia.  The performances and ceremonies are usually jointly organised by number of unions or/and small organisations.  There will be a makeshift canopy of a small stage, looking for some well-known presenters and entertainers, with their boisterous singing and dancing, match with the world’s best music, the very civilians entertaining.  The performance are meant to be for the spirits but also for people during the Seventh Month.  Chairs lined up in the audience’s front rows are usually empty and reserved for the spirits.  This form of entertainment has become a must have in the Seventh Month festivals.

庆典的目的是给那些孤魂野鬼观赏,所以你会发现观众的前排椅子是空着的。

The performance are meant to be for the spirits but also for people during the Seventh Month.  Chairs lined up in the audience’s front rows are usually empty and reserved for the spirits.

另外一种仪式是拍卖会;就是大家一齐拍卖东西,拍卖成功的人把东西请回家,接下来的一年会得“好兄弟”的保佑而一家平安。

Another observed ceremony is the auction where people dine at the auction dinner and bid for the highest priced items.  The sucessful bidder will bring home the items where the Good Brothers (euphemism for spirits) will bless them with good tidings for the following year.

所谓“一人得道,鸡狗升天。”现在歌台旁还有一些流动小贩,卖的小食如雪糕,麻糍等等。可见,这种祭拜仪式不止单单反映当地的文化民俗,也为国家经济添加一分力。

As the saying goes “When a man attains enlightenment, even his pets ascent to heaven”.  Next to the performance stage, there are some itinerant hawkers selling ice creams, Ma-Ci (a soft rice snack with grounded peanuts) etc.  This does not only reflects the local culture and folklore, it adds a contribution to the national economy.

 

 

更可喜的是,草根传统文化在科技时代里还能生存是非常难能可贵。

Far more and far most, it is even more gratifying and commendable that the grassroots traditional culture is able to survive in the era of Science and Technology.

 

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2 thoughts on “(4) Life – Chinese Ghost Month / 生活 (4) – 中元节

    Cathy Ulrich said:
    September 7, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Sydney,
    Thank for this wonderful post and for the great tour of the Hungry Ghost Festival. I really enjoyed it!
    Cathy

      Sydney Fong responded:
      September 7, 2012 at 11:42 am

      Cathy, you are welcome !

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