CHINA: Burying practices and Hungry Ghost Day
For instance, if someone is having bad luck, by being engaged in bad business deals or by reaching bankruptcy, it might be because one of their family members is not buried properly, in the right direction or with the right elevation.
Moreover, people are buried with the items that they might need in the afterlife. Money, clothing, cigarettes, cell phones, foods, laptops, among other articles, are buried next to the coffin. This is done in an effort to provide the deceased one with what he or she might need to have a happy life after death.
During the month of the Chinese All Souls Day, also known as Hungry Ghost Day, it is believed that the souls of the deceased are released from hell to roam around the living. This month begins on this particular year today, August 10th, 2010.
Therefore, no major business deals, weddings, or birthday celebrations are scheduled during this month.
Since it is believed that souls roam in straight lines, people place sweet cakes, food, and candles at traffic intersections. This is done with the hope that the souls will be pleased with the food available. It is believed that if the food is not placed in the intersections, the roaming souls might enter houses looking for it.
This tradition is still alive today because it is known that if your ancestors are happy, then you will enjoy good luck, and will help the living and future generations.
Peony in Love, a fictional novel by Lisa See, explores this tradition of 17th Century China that continues today. There the heroine Liniang returns as a ghost to help the living. The story is taken from a 16th Century opera “The Peony Pavilion”. In Chinese metaphysics the soul separates into 3 parts each with its own journey to traverse before attaining an integrated afterlife. The heroine or “hungry ghost” explores the themes of love and suffering redemption.
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