Hungry Ghost Festival 2011 – 中元节 2011 Malaysia
It is said that during this time, ghosts and spirits come out from the lower realm and linger in our world. The Hungry Ghost Festival is the opposite of the Qingming Festival and Chung Yeung Festival, wherein living descendants visit their deceased ancestors, on Ghost Day however, it is the opposite: the deceased visit the living.
Hungry Ghost Festival in Malaysia
Malaysia celebrate the Ghost Festival 2011 with a rather modernized twist. Live performances and concerts scatter around the countries’ major cities, thus making it unique and stand out among the other countries that celebrate the same festival. These live shows are locally kown as ‘Koh-tai’ by the Hokkien-speaking people. These are performed by a group of singers and dancers on a temporary stage set up within a residential district.
There are many stories of the origin of hungry ghosts. In the Buddhist tradition there are stories from Chuan-chi po-yuan ching ("Sutra of One Hundred Selected Legends") that is from the early third century. Some examples of these stories are as follows:
One story is of a rich man who traveled selling sugar-cane juice. One day a monk came to his house looking for some juice to cure an illness. The man had to leave, so he instructed his wife to give the man the drink in his absence. Instead of doing this, she secretly urinated in the monk's bowl, added sugar cane juice to it and gave it to the monk. The monk was not deceived, he poured out the bowl and left. When the wife died she was reborn as a hungry ghost.
Another such tale is of a man who was giving and kind. One day he was about to leave his house when a monk came by begging. The man instructed his wife to give the monk some food. After the man left his house his wife was overcome with greed. She took it upon herself to teach the monk a lesson, so she locked the monk in an empty room all day with no food. She was reborn as a hungry ghost for innumerable life times.
Most times the legends speak of hungry ghosts who in a previous lifetime were greedy women who refused to give away food. Other stories in the Buddhist tradition come from Kuei wen mu-lien ching ("The Sutra on the Ghosts Questioning Mu-lien").