Hong Kong's Ullambana Festival: Chinese halloween

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During the seventh lunar month – around August – downtown Hong Kong is swathed in a haze of burning incense, and throbs to a hubbub of voices, sutra chants, and Chaozhou Opera music played on traditional stringed and woodwind instruments. All of these ingredients compose the Ullambana Festival, the traditional cultural event that Chaoshan residents brought to Hong Kong well over a century ago.

Hong Kong people pay respect to their progenitors and release souls from suffering on August 20, 2012 at the Ullambana Festival.

Established by migrants from the Chaozhou-Shantou region of China's mainland, the month-long event was first observed in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay in 1897. It expressed these newcomers' nostalgia for their old home and respect for their ancestors. It was also a way of enlivening the neighborhood. Later, the festival was held in other areas of Hong Kong, and the tradition carries on to this day. In 2011, the Ullambana Festival was added to the third batch of China's national intangible cultural heritage.

Forgiveness and Sacrifice

Also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, Ullambana is held on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month. According to traditional folklore, this month, also known as Ghost Month, is when the gates to the underworld open for a month, allowing the departed to visit their families, feast, and roam the earth. Hong Kong people do their utmost to appease these transient ghosts while at the same time "feeding" their ancestors. It is one of China's main folk festivals.

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