Hungry Ghost Festival
The Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated throughout the entire seventh month on the Chinese lunar calendar. Even though this ancient tradition is still practised today, many of us know very little about the story behind it. The following is the legend associated with it.
As with many mysterious events, the origins of the Ghost Month remain a mystery. Buddhists believe that it's closely associated with a man called Mu Lian. Legend has it that Mu Lian, a student of Buddha, went to see his departed mother using his mystical power. It was said that Mu Lian’s mother committed sinful acts and she was punished by the realm of hungry ghosts when she died. When Mu Lian saw her, she was in hunger and great suffering. Mu Lian was deeply saddened. He wanted to feed her with some rice in a bowl, but the rice turned into charcoal immediately as soon as his mother put the rice into her mouth. Mu Lian was very depressed and left, thinking that he could not do anything to help her after all.
Mu Lian later sought help from his master, Buddha, to release his mother from suffering. The Buddha told him that the only way to save her through salvation was to offer fruits and vegetables in Yulan bowls to the monks on the 15th day of the 7th month on the lunar calendar. The monks would requite through Sangha members in ten directions. It is said that the Sangha members were holding pure and complete precepts on that day. Their mystical power was believed to be able to release the donors’ parents from the great suffering in hell.
Mu Lian followed the advice and saved his mother from the suffering. He asked Buddha whether his followers could do the same. Buddha advised that all the followers should practise it too. Today, the legend of Mu Lian has become a significant icon of filial piety.
Taoists believe that during the month of the Hungry Ghost festival, the gate of hell is open and all the hungry ghosts would roam the world. During the whole 7th lunar month, the Chinese mark the festival by holding religious ceremonies at home, temples associations and guilds. Sometimes prayers and food are offered at street corners and roadsides to appease the hungry ghosts. The practice is intended to prevent the wandering souls (ghosts) from entering the homes of the living, hence keeping the latter out of trouble. The Enlightenment Ceremony is held during the Ghost month to relieve the souls of our ancestors of suffering.
The True Spirit of Filial Piety
In Chinese culture, caring for our parents is highly regarded as a traditional merit, which transcends time, both in the past and in the future.
Filial piety basically means caring for one’s own parents in their old age. It fosters traditional family values, transcends boundaries and societies, whether in the East or West. The revered relationship between parents and children is considered both natural and noble.
True filial piety encompasses love and care in the form of respect and reverence for parents. It's practised through our regular gathering and communication with our parents where affectionate greetings through words and deeds are delivered.
An extended interpretation of filial piety may take us further to incorporate the proper ethics that safeguard our well beings and good social standing by refraining from joining bad company, falling into bad habits and committing disgraceful deeds.
Such lifelong obligation also comes in the form of helping our parents with a pre-planning for the inevitable eventuality. The comprehensive care and love will provide total peace of mind to our parents.
Filial piety takes all forms of honoring, respecting and loving our parents and NV Multi Corporation Berhad has always been in the forefront of championing such virtues through its services, activities and donations. The annual Enlightenment Ceremony, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day celebrations are proudly observed by NV Multi throughout its entire group. That is a testament to our firm commitment to advancing the cause of this time-honored customary practice.
The Origin of Enlightenment Ceremony
China is famous for its traditional ceremonies and rites. Since ancient times, they had already learned how to perform certain ceremonies and rites to mark the corresponding occasions. That is why the Chinese culture is special in a way that it places so much emphasis on the practice of the traditional ceremonies and rites.
Ancestral 'offerings and sacrifices' belongs to one of the 5 main ceremonies practised by the Chinese. It was divided into spring and autumn offerings. In a very long time ago, it was the main ceremony of the country, especially the autumn offering, whereby people prayed to heaven, Deity of Earth and ancestors. In the autumn offering (e.g. prayer ceremony in commemoration of the ghost festival), the Emperor would lead all the government officers in praying and burning Joss sticks. This was a joyful yet solemn ceremony to pray for peace and prosperity. Even if there was a revolution and change in a new government, the prayer ceremony of autumn offering had never been ignored by any government.
The same belief that we follow today through a dedicated praying ceremony in the ghost month is meant to free the suffering souls from the spiritual entanglement (e.g. free from karmic debts) in the Six Directions of Reincarnation. This is to pave the way for the suffering souls to reach the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. The prayers, at the same time, bless the living with happiness, longevity and prosperity.