Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ghost Month & Ghost Festival

Well, the month of August is considered Ghost month here in Taiwan. Therefore, it’s a month dedicated to ancestor worship. The Taiwanese believe that everyone at death becomes a ghost or spirit. These spirits become either ancestors or “hungry ghosts”, hence ghost month. The ghosts are those that have not been properly cared for by their living families and are therefore destined to haunt the living. The month’s “festivities” start on the first day of the seventh lunar month when 'Open Day' in hell is held. Supposedly, the gates to the underworld are opened and the spirits are allowed to cross over into the living world. During this month, ghosts are honored and appeased as they are treated as “guests”. Families regularly sacrifice throughout the year, but do more often during this month. You will see incense offered, food dedicated, and hell money burned. About halfway through the month a large banquet is prepared and offered as sacrifices. We didn’t really see this in action, but there was a lot of extra sacrificing going on. Thankfully, there was A LOT of rain this month so that cut back the sacrificing quite a bit. We were told by some of the church members that during this month those who participate and believe this have a list of do’s and don’ts. Many things are advised not to do, such as the following: weddings, giving birth, making special plans, traveling, business deals/ outings, purchasing things like cars, homes, etc. Some of the things I read not to do were things like – whistling (as it will attract dead spirits to you and your house), talking ill of the dead, swimming (as the spirits can easily drowned you), walking by riverbanks (spirits can easily steal living spirits there), and adding to the dead by burying the dead. There are many weird superstitions. Then, on the 30th of the month, on ‘Closing Day’, the gates of hell are closed again and the ghosts return to the other side.
It’s very sad to see the devotion to sacrificing and the rooted beliefs they have in this worship. It’s actually very interesting … there is a business right next to the church that regularly performs sacrifices. Many of the pictures below are that I took of them on Ghost Festival day (Monday). Pray for us that we may have an opportunity to witness to them. We cannot communicate well with them, due to the language barrier, but we hope to find a way – even a simple tract being given.

1 comment:

The Horaks said...

Wow, it's really almost mind-boggling that some people are still so entrapped by idol-worship! What an amazing mission field to serve on! We're praying for you both!