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Rory Boland

Hungry Ghost Festival Hong Kong and Hell Bank Notes

By August 4, 2010

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Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong KongHong Kong's somewhat scarier version of Halloween; during the seventh moon it's believed that restless spirits and ghosts return to earth --- some of them with vengeance on their mind. Known as the Hungry Ghost Festival Children are told to be home before dark in case a wandering spirit snatches them and people stay away from swimming pools lest an angry ghost drown them.

The festival is also famous for its Hell Bank Notes. Perhaps somewhat depressingly for those who were hoping for cloud beds and rows of virgins, Hong Kong's mixture of Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and Ancestor worship believes the afterlife is pretty much a continuation of life on earth, although presumably without a corporeal body.

To make the afterlife more comfortable, and appease any restless spirits, family members therefore burn fake money, known as Hell Bank Notes, as well as paper creations of everything from cars to the Apple I-phone. On the day of the festival, which this year falls on August 14th, you'll often see Hong Kongers crouched by the road side playing arson with their paper offerings.

Photo: Copyright of Cloodlebing and Great Kindness via Flickr

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