Today, I have as a special guest Tom McLaughlin, author of Borneo Tom! Please give him a warm Moonlighter welcome.
Didn’t take care of your ancestor’s grave? Forgot to offer proper respect to those who have passed before you?
Not to worry! The Chinese Festival of the Hungry Ghost will assuage the spirits.
The day begins at sunset as small fires are lit in front of homes and businesses here in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo. At nearby temple, a large barrel filled with flame begins to consume vast quantities of fake paper money and other apologies to appease the spirits whose final resting place have not been cleaned, weed free and head stones scrubbed.
In the temple, large and small hampers of food, some containing expensive whiskies but most with fruit and rice are offered to the gods. Each has a tag with a number. As the small crowd gathers and at the moment deemed most favourable by the elders, the tags are scattered and the people scramble hoping to get the tag that represents the expensive offering.
The boxes of food are distributed, the fires extinguished and the Hungry Ghosts appeased for another year. Yet, this festival is a reminder to keep the final resting place in good order or the revenge of the Hungry Ghost may visit you during the year!
Tom McLaughlin lives and teaches in Malaysian Borneo where he has introduced his students to Edgar Allen Poe and the Raven , Nevermore. His book, Borneo Tom, related in sketch and verse heis adventures and travels throughout Southeast Asia. www.borneotom.com