Friday, August 27, 2010

The Hungry Ghost ...

I think most of you know that this is the month of the Hungry Ghost in the Chinese tradition. Normally, it is celebrated on the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calender and it is not the same as Ching Ming. Ching Ming is like the All Souls Day in the Christian tradition whereas Hungry Ghost or Yu Lan is the month when all ghosts are allowed to wander and roam the earth for a month.

I was about to blog something about this month of the Hungry Ghost last night. But then I remembered ... last night was Malam Jumaat (ehemmmm ... not that Malam Jumaat), which during my school days was when the whole dormitory will gather together during light off and sharing ghost stories ... Belum masuk blog dah seram hahaha! But anyway, as I grew older and more "expose" on adulthood I guess old folks invented all this "malam jumaat keliwon" things to encourage young and active "married" (i must emphasis this) couple not to "wander" elsewhere ... wink wink!

In my previous office, all married Sarawakians will tease one another ... "Malam jumaat eh ... cepat balit, ada hantu nunggu di rumah"... translation, "It's Friday Night, let's go home, there is a ghost waiting in the house". And being the single one, I would often said ... "Yea right, aku nang penunggu nunggu di rumah". Not complaining!!!!

Back to the Hungry Ghost, according to my aunts, during this month they will normally pray to the ancestors and offer prayers, incense, hell money, and food especially during the 15th day. To them it is important to observe this day as this will ensure that the ancestors live comfortably in the other world. On the other hand, there might be spirits or ghosts whom are forgotten by their descendants so they become so thin and hungry (dunno whether this true or not) hehehe and start "kacau orang" for food. Normally, this type of spirits are spirits of a whole family perish in one go (like wars, accidents or whatever mishaps). So extended families like cousins or relatives forgot to offer prayers and food to them.

I often ask my aunties, how do we know that the ghost of our ancestors had come to feast on the food offerings because as Nyonyas, the offerings are quite elaborate. My aunties said, usually the food become tasteless after being "eaten" by the ghosts. So I often teased my auntie Rose if her cooking was less salty ... "ada hantu makan kah?" But my aunties know how to tease me back too ... one night I found a blue-black mark on my underarm but i couldn't recall hitting on anything...

My aunties said ... "You so naughty so hantu come and pinch you".

I guess my Chinese family really, really take this Hungry Ghost thing very seriously as my cousins came all the way back to Penang to offer prayers and offerings to my grandparents. I always tease them ... "orang banyak berdosa memang kena offer prayers to grandma and grandpa" and they will tease me back ... "yalah, grandma money face one". Hahaha .... have to laugh first.

There was this incident few years back when my grandma was still alive and coincidently all the cousins came back for holidays in Penang. So normally before we returned back to our normal lives, we will give grandma "ang pow". Since I am the biggest earner in the family and I only come back once in every 3 months so I decided to give bigger ang pow. It was really a "bona fide" gesture on my part. But grandma despite her frail conditions only remember my name after that hahaha.

Anyway, the month of the Hungry Ghost often give me the creeps even when I was in KL. Near to my former rented apartment in Jalan Ipoh, there is this Chinese temple. So during Hungry Ghost festival they will put up "concerts" to entertain the ghosts. I always pray that after the concert the ghosts will go elsewhere and don't stop by my apartment. Hahaha especially not that big scary raintree just opposite my apartment balcony.

In Penang, the scariest part about the month of the Hungry Ghost is when I need to answer the call of nature in the middle of the night. My grandparent house in Ayer Itam is a kampung house where the toilet is located away from the main house. And my aunties planted few banana trees surrounding it... At night when it's dark, the toilet look so scary. Maybe that was when I got "pinched". The problem is my grandparent house is very cooling at night since it is on top a hill and there are many trees around the compound. So I often found myself want to pee-pee in the middle of the night sometimes. My aunties of course got themselves chamber pots ...

People also don't wander around late at night during this month. Problem is ... I "pun" often become the "Hungry Ghost" this past few weeks hehehe ... can't sleep without supper hehehe.

5 comments:

Ramli said...

rambomadonna,

this is the best entry for the whole year...serius I njog giler baca...tq...u really make my day....

rambomadonna said...

Meli: Thanks ... stressful ke life skg nie?

yani said...

hahahha... fun to read.. in melaka pon ther's alot of praying i saw.. near jonker street n my neighbourhood since most of them are chinese :)

rambomadonna said...

Hello Yani, thank you for stopping by. I pun ada lawat your blog. Rajin you menulis yer. Wish I had the time. Well historically this festival particularly observed by businessmen and traders to ward away evil spirits.

Kalau di penang, the Peranakan families are traders and businessmen yang very2 particular about the rituals and stuff so tak heranlah you will find similarity in Melaka and Singapore.

Abet said...

I tottaly agree with your friends that this is post made my day :)

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