Hungry Ghost Festival (盂蘭節)
A tradition in both Daoism and Buddhism, Ghost Month is celebrated during the seventh lunar month in Taiwan, generally falling in August and September. One of the highlights of the Hungry Ghost Month is the Hungry Ghost Festival.
What Is the Reason for the Celebration?
It is believed the gates of hell are open throughout the Hungry Ghost Month but they are most open on this night. It is believed many hungry and wayward ghosts come to visit the living.
How Do Celebrate?
Falling on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, this festival is held all over Taiwan. Ghosts are offered multiple varieties of meats, dumplings, fruits and vegetables. Later in the evening after the ghosts have taken their full, the living will eat the offerings for dinner.
What Is the Origin of the Hungry Ghost Festival?
Originally the Hungry Ghost Festival was a day to honor ancestors, but once Buddhism was introduced in China, the holiday was called Yu Lan Peng Festival, a Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit term Ullambana. Taoists refer to the festival as Zhongyuan Jie. Both Buddhists and Taoists attribute the origin of the Hungry Ghost Festival to Buddhist scriptures.
One story of the Hungry Ghost Festival’s origin is that of one of the Buddha’s disciples, Mulian. He traveled to hell on lunar July 15 to offer food and ask that his mother to be released. His filial piety paid off and she was released, leading to the tradition of burning incense and offering food during the Hungry Ghost Festival.