Every year around late August, followers of the Buddhist and Taoist faith, and members of the Asian and South-East Asian communities will gather together at temples and graves to offer prayers and offerings to deceased relatives.
Distinct from the Qing Ming Festival, which falls around April, it is believed that during Hungry Ghost, the souls of deceased relatives come back to visit the living. As such, food is offered to the departed, as well as paper clothes, hell bank notes and shoes. If you are wondering what hell bank notes are, it is currency that can be used in the after-life.
These days papers versions of iPhone, cars, televisions and houses are also offered, in the belief that those departed will be able to eat and use these things in the after-life.
The paper offerings are clearly labelled with the name of the person whom the offerings are meant for and then burned in a large oven. Relatives will pray at either the temple or the grave site. Some families make very elaborate food offerings complete with wine and tea, or offer the favourite food of the deceased. Generally speaking, these offerings are vegetarian, at the temple anyway.
Also known as the Yulan Festival, Hungry Ghost falls on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar. In 2021, this day happens to be August 22.
At the Ming Yue Lay Temple in Bonnyrigg, tablets and labels with the names of the deceased are stuck on the wall so that people can pay their respects.