Thursday, 11 October 2018

The Hungry Ghost Festival | Hong Kong

scroll down on the right....or click The Hungry Ghost Festival.

Following my earlier post on the Hungry Ghost festival in Hong Kong, I am now publishing my own gallery of the festival...with an interesting explanation as to the reason for street Chinese Operas starting and ending their performances with a sacred baby wooden doll.

It is one of the most popular rituals for the street operas, and is called the rite of "The Heavenly Consort Presents a Child" where the Heavenly Consort (one of the Seven Fairies) in the person of a made-up and costumed actress, who descends from the stage, bearing her "child", Hai Ji, represented by a wooden doll in her arms. The doll is dressed in red, and represents the godly essence of theatre in a wooden image.

During my few days at the site of the Hungry Ghost festival in Kowloon, I and a Hong Kong-based friend Ms Laura Donini-Rafee, met with a handful of volunteer officials, who were not only glad to see me as a non-Chinese photographer, but proceeded to quiz me on the tradition and helpfully correcting my insufficient knowledge. 

Posing with Mr Ma and Mr Cheung, officials at the Hungry Ghost festival (Kowloon)
Photo © Laura Donini-Rafee
While the Hungry Ghost Festival has weathered decades of decline, it's been sustained by grassroots sustenance from the tight-knit Chiu Chow communities in Hong Kong and beyond. Hong Kong has a very large number of Chiu Chow (or Teochew) people and their intense sense of kinship created powerful Chiu Chow networks across the Southeast Asian region.

The Chiu Chow community are responsible for over half of the 100 celebrations that take place around Hong Kong. Whatever their origin, each of these Hungry Ghost rituals serve similar purposes: to pay homage to the gods and ancestors, to sooth wandering spirits, to care for the living by giving away goods, to bring good luck to the neighborhood and to join people together.