Hungry Ghost Festival
While in the West they have to celebrate Halloween, the Chinese also have their own version of ghost, namely the “Hungry Ghost Festival”. Unlike the West, the Chinese celebrate the Festival for the entire month by offering food and prayers to the ghosts. Most Chinese today may know a bit about the procedures of the festival but very few know the story behind the festival. The following is the legend that is associated with it:
As with many cool events, the origins of Ghost Month remain a mystery. Buddhists believe the legend that a man named Mu Lian, who was a student of Buddha went to see his departed mother by his mystical power. It was said that Mu Lian’s mother was in sin and she was punished to the realm of the hungry ghost when she died. When Mu Lian saw her, she was in hunger and great suffering. Mu Lian was deeply saddened and he tried to feed her with some rice in a bowl. However, the rice turned into a charcoal immediately when his mother put the rice into the mouth. Mu Lian was very depressed and left because he could not do anything to help his mother.
Mu Lian went back to seek the help of his master, Buddha to release his mother from those suffering. The Buddha told him that the only way to save her from salvation was to offer fruits and vegetables in Yulan bowls to the monks on the 15th day of the 7th lunar calendar. The monks would requite to all the Sangha members in ten directions. It is said that the Sangha members were holding pure and complete precepts on that day. Their meritorious power can help the donors’ parents out of the great suffering in hell .
Later on, Mu Lian saved his mother from the suffering and he asked Buddha if his followers could do the same practice. Buddha advised that all the followers should have the practice too. Nowadays, the legend of Mu Lian has become a significant day to remember the filial piety of their ancestors.
Taoists believe that during the month of the Hungry Ghost festival, the gate of hell is opened and all the hungry ghosts go roaming to the world. During the whole 7th lunar month, the Chinese celebrate the festival by holding religious ceremonies at home, temples associations and guilds. Sometimes prayers and food are offered at street corners and roadsides for the hungry ghosts. It is a belief that the practice will prevent the wandering souls from entering their homes and stay out of troubles. The Enlightenment Ceremony is held during the period to exempt the souls of ancestors from suffering and pain.
The True Spirit of Filial Piety
In Chinese culture, caring for our parents is highly regarded as a traditional merit. A merit that transcends time, in the past and in future.
Filial piety basically means caring for one’s own parents in their old age, it provides the bondage to enhance traditional family values , transcending boundaries and societies, whether East and West. This intimate relationship between parent and children is considered both natural and noble.
True filial piety encompasses such tender areas as love and care in the forms of respect and reverence for parents , regular gathering and constant communication with parents , extending loving greetings through words and deeds.
An extended interpretation of filial piety may take us further to incorporate the proper safeguard of our well beings and good social standing by refraining from joining bad company, falling into bad habits and indulging into disgraceful deeds.
Such lifelong obligation also comes in the form of helping parents to pre-planning for any eventuality. The comprehensive care and love ensure total peace of mind for parents.
Filial piety takes all forms of honoring, respecting and loving our parents and NV Multi Corporation Berhad has always been in the forefront to promote such virtues through its services, activities and donations. The annual Enlightenment Ceremony, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day celebrations widely observed by NV Multi and its branches are ample proof of our firm commitment to advance the cause of this time-honored customary practice.
The Origin of Enlightenment Ceremony
So far China is famous for its ceremonies and rites. Since ancient times, they learned had administered by using ceremonies and rites. That is why the Chinese culture is special in that they emphasize and place importance on the practice of ceremonies and rites.
Offering sacrifices to ancestors was one of the 5 main ceremonies, and it was divided into spring and autumn offerings. From a long time ago, it was the main ceremony of the country, especially the autumn offering, whereby people pray to heaven, Deity of Earth and ancestors. In the autumn offering (prayer ceremony of ghost festival), the Emperor would lead all the government officers in praying and burning Joss sticks. This was a joyful and solemn ceremony to pray for peace and prosperity. Even if there was a revolution and change in a new government, the prayer ceremony of autumn offering had never been stopped by any government.
The praying ceremony is meant to free the souls from suffering in the Six Direction of reincarnation to reach the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. The prayers are for all the living to obtain happiness and longevity, for the souls of ancestors to reincarnate, and prayers to avoid debts.