Hungry Ghost Month

August is the time of year when the “ghosts” (of dead ancestors? any generic passing spirits?) must be appeased – with food! This makes no sense logically (ghosts don’t have a physical body so how can they eat anything?) but then, this is more about tradition than logic.  One day, the street outside the Temple (five floors below my apartment, literally) looked the same as always. By evening, a 8-foot high framework (bamboo poles, corrugated tin roof) had been set up all along the lane, obscuring the lanterns from the street level but protecting anyone under it from the frequent downpours. I noticed that the foot traffic outside the Temple dramatically increased  (as did the noise). For a week people brought flowers, paper “money”, and all sorts of fruits as offerings (to what, I’m not quite sure – maybe the hungry ghosts?) and stacked it up on the giant marble “alter”.  One morning, van after van showed up (blocking the alley) to deliver their cargo: enormous bags of rice were the only item I recognized. Wow, those ghosts must really be famished! Where will they store all those food stuffs? And then, the mystery of all that food was revealed! Lines of people (the faithful Temple goers?) stream into the Temple to collect (pink plastic) bags filled with (I’m guessing here) the rice and whatever else was previously delivered. At some point I will have to attempt communication with the Temple folk and ask them about this time-honored tradition.

Guarding the gates of the Temple

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…

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