How to Celebrate Hungry Ghost Festival Aug 15th

14 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Ghost Month will reach its perigee on August 15th. At the Hungry Ghost Festival (盂兰盆节), these once human souls are permitted to visit the living world and some may visit their descendents to see how they are doing. On this day, we venerate them with happiness and acknowledge their existence. We save the first row in any performance venue for them to sit there. Anyone who tries may well feel a chill!

This time of the year is a different sort of Halloween. As for what believers can do in preparation is to beware of certain practices lest the spirit attaches itself. This can range from avoiding wearing clothing that is red or black to not killing insects crawling around–they may be someone’s grandparents reincarnated. The best thing to do with the latter is to catch and release the critter outside.

Superstitions aside, some fans of horror cinema may opt to get into the mood. Instead of scaring ourselves silly, we may opt to look at supernatural comedies. My choices have to fit the criteria of how the spirit world interacts with reality. Instead of a top five, I have six on my list. In my culture, we consider this number lucky. Amongst my favourites that are distinctly Asian and PG-13 in tone are:

Tsui Hark’s A Chinese Ghost Story (1995)
小倩

This animated version is a youth-minded (and very Walt Disney) take of the original live-action films. It’s not to say the 1993-53 work is bad–these films are its own world and the cartoon did what the producers could not cover and that’s to hammer (literally) themesa of resurrection and how love can be eternal in one go. The work is very colourful, and this was one time I did not mind seeing the hero Ning have a lively animal companion save the day.

Plus, the musical extravaganzas in this work is very memorable! They even put a few spectacles created by the House of Mouse to shame. After seeing this film for the first time, I knew I had to own the album and listen to it to death.

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