Call me superstitious, but I decided not to post anything about this until today, because it is the 15th day of the month. It is the night when the moon is full. I do not know why but I tried to link up to many websites on the subject 'asian hungry ghosts' but until now, the messages I got were my browser could not connect to these sites. Is it a coincidence or what? Early this month, Lillian Too's email reminded me not to stay out late at night and even my sister also reminded me to go home early.
Anyway, my friend's explanation seemed to differ from what most asians believe, which is the gate to hell opens on the 15th for one whole month, to allow the hungry ghosts to roam in our world to feed before they return to the netherworld. That is why during this month, we see the religious offering food, joss sticks, hell paper and paper houses etc to them and the air smells of burnt paper. This is also a noisy time of the year because there would be 'getai' performances everywhere especially in the heartlands, where performers on stage entertain the crowds with their elaborate outfits and drama, and the wandering ghosts so that they do not create havoc for their human counterparts during this month.
Actually, I told my friend I have lots of questions e.g. like theoretically if my grandparents were reincarnated, then burning the above to them is of no use, and whether my dead doggie Bell is still lingering around, but I guess I will reserve these not so burning questions until another time. By the way, if the food is an offering to them, why would people eat the food after that?