However, until now I haven't bothered to stop by and find out more. This time, I made it a point to drop in one of these tents and chat up. Heat waves hit me the moment I opened my car door. The aroma was so strong that I sneezed.
A volunteer was kind enough to patiently explain and answer my questions:) This festival falls in the seventh month of the lunar calendar (usually around July/August) and is celebrated thorough out the month. Each community/family selects a convenient day to celebrate it.
|Yellow - dead people list, Red - live persons seeking prosperity and peace!|
On that day, the monks visit this type of prayer tents and pray for the dead souls in general and specifically for those listed on the yellow posters! They also pray for the peace and prosperity of the living, and special prayers for those listed in red posters!!
Colorful idols are placed at the alter. The center one was very large.
|God of Heaven|
"This is the Heaven God. He guides the dead people, so we pray to him" said the volunteer.
"These small Gods are like angles and they help us during natural disasters like earthquake...and see these are the gold and silver mountains that will be there in the Heaven"...
It was very fascinating to learn about their beliefs. And the most surprising article was this cute model.
|Toilet for the DEAD!!!|
The loo model was placed outside the tent and was meant for the visiting souls! It seems that the right toilet is for men and it was marked by 'red tail' like character that represents spade, which is used in farming. Whereas, the left was for ladies, which is marked by red dot, that depicts hand!
|One of the Buddhist Goddess Kuan Yin - capable of taking 32 'avatars' to help the believers!|
The offerings kept in front of Kuan Yin would be distributed at the end of the prayers, after midnight 12 am! I was proudly shown that the candy, dates and cereals towers were hand crafted by community members!
As it was a Buddhist community, all the offerings were vegetarian food, which had mock chicken and other soya/flour based meat. Along with a gift hamper, this food too would be distributed to the donors.
Finally, I was told that all the paper idols and articles would be burnt at the end of the prayer at midnight. Though I strongly respect the tradition and culture, I am concerned about the environmental pollution that occurs due to these burning. And I have a doubt if this could be the cause of the haze at nights during this season!