All posts by Reluctant Bodhisattva

The Solar Eclipse and Ghost Month

Welcome to Ghost Month 2017. This year, Ghost Month holds a very special place on the calendar.

On the Chinese calendar, Ghost Month always starts on the new moon of the seventh lunar month.  Because this system relies upon the lunar cycle, an extra month, or leap month, has to be added to the calendar every three years. This year, the Chinese calendar adds a leap month in July, resulting in Ghost Month beginning almost a whole month later on the western calendar.

Because Ghost Month is late this year, it magically aligns with the Solar Eclipse which happened on August 21, the day before the
Gates of Hell open and Ghost Month begins.

This is a total solar eclipse that makes its way across the
United States, casting a series of two minute shadows from the coast of Oregon to the shores of South Carolina. For two short minutes, on-lookers all across this line of totality stand in darkness together as one, in awe of nature and her humbling beauty.

Then, the next day, Ghost Month begins.

Is this ominous? Maybe a little.

Maybe a little more for those of us in the United States… especially considering the state of The United States.

But, Ghost Month is not observed by many here in the United States. Most Americans have never even heard the phrase  “hungry ghost” let alone are familiar with Ghost Month and its rituals. No need to be concerned with such matters, right?

Yet, in parts of the world that do observe Ghost Month, every year at this time people are cautioned to be extra safe and reverent, to expect malevolent ghosts at play, and to appease them accordingly.

Feng Shui writer Ricky Lee offers a Filipino perspective on this year’s special Ghost Month… dreadful.

For this year’s solar eclipse, what makes it dreadful is that it happens on the eve of the Hungry Ghost Month, and I have never ever recalled than an eclipse happening on the eve of the Hungry Ghost Month, and this is most certainly an indication that something big either worldwide or to several countries will happen during the Hungry Ghost Month or will start during the Hungry Ghost Month.

A Lunar Eclipse, A Solar Eclipse, and the Hungry Ghost Month

Ghost Month Around the US

This is what Ghost Month sounds like in the US. It was recorded in our backyard last year for the soundtrack of our movie Going Home.

We began observing Ghost Month in 2015 by launching this blog and creating compelling content to make it uniquely “us.”

We registered the domain name with the .us extension, mostly because the .com extension was unavailable.

But, .us also served the purpose of distinguishing us here in Houston, Texas, USA from the rest of the world where Ghost Month is traditionally celebrated.

Initially, we thought we would find pockets of people around Houston celebrating Ghost Month and learn more about the traditions through local interactions.

Most AsiaiPhone6Sn grocery stores in town carry joss paper and joss sticks, even if it’s only a small selection. Larger stores carry a wide variety of supplies including joss burners and the ever evolving paper offerings.

What we discovered was that there are people buying these items, but there are not public displays of the rituals.


The dramatic scenes of people burning bonfires of joss paper so commonly shown in photos of Ghost Month do not exist here in Houston.


Hungry Ghosts Are Sated and Stimulated in Penang

Nor do such photos exist from other places across the United States. Roughly 5.6% of the American population is of Asian decent. Even though Ghost Month is not observed in all Asian cultures, it seems like Hungry Ghost Festivals in the United States would be more prevalent than they appear to be.

I believe this is due in part to the highly superstitious nature of the observance and the tendency to conceal such beliefs in the context of the American norm. After all, American superstitions about ghosts are much more about entertainment than anything spiritual.

The American block buster movie Ghost Busters, a story about capturing ghosts, is a far cry from the street operas that reserve the front seats for the ghosts in the audience.

Americans do not like to be called superstitious.

As a result, I believe that Ghost Month here in Houston, and probably all across the United States, happens not out in the open, in the streets, but in the privacy of one’s home, in one’s backyard.

This is how we are celebrate Ghost Month, in our backyard.

This made me realize that we came to the Hungry Ghost Festival not because we were looking for something new and different to celebrate, but because of who we are. It turns out to be a very personal thing. It is what makes us… us.

This makes our .us domain extension even more meaningful.

Because is first and foremost – about US.




Ghost Month Around the World

pokemonGo01 Malaysian webcomic describes the Pokémon-hunting zombie hordes perfectly

Look out your window at night, and you’ll see a new crop of nocturnal loiterers at playgrounds and parks hunting Pokémon.

The mobile game came to Southeast Asia over the weekend just in time for the Hungry Ghost Festival.   read more…

singapore01 Malay Celebrity Chef Good-Natured Message Of Tolerance For Hungry Ghost Month Goes Viral

The Hungry Ghost Month is when the gates of hell will open and spirits will be free to roam the earth seeking food and offerings which the Chinese observe by offering sacrifices of foods, burning joss papers, chanting scriptures, and making lanterns.Singaporean celebrity chef, Shahrizal Salleh has found himself in the spotlight after calling for tolerance and understanding of this ancient Chinese tradition in a Facebook posting on 3 August, which happens to be the first day of the 7th lunar month marking the beginning of the Hungry Ghost Festival.   read more…

Hungry Ghost Festivals In Malaysia

Great photos of the first few days of Ghost Month in Kuala Lumpur.   read more…

 hongKong01 How to Avoid Hong Kong’s Hungry Ghosts This August

Nearly all world cultures have festivals to remember the dead, and Hong Kong is no exception. Living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors on Ching Ming in the spring and on Chung Yeung in the autumn.But there’s another festival that is less well understood, a time when people all over the city burn offerings to the dead on city streets: Hungry Ghost Festival (Zung1 Jyun4 Zit3 中元節).   read more…
 penang01 Hungry Ghost Festival

When the clock strikes midnight on the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, the gates of the afterlife crack open to unleash ghosts unto the land of the living.

For a period of one month every year, the Hungry Ghost Festival takes over Penang – in 2016, it’s happening August 3-31.   read more…

 makerVideo WATCH: The craftsmen who create traditional paper offerings for the Hungry Ghost Festival

The Hungry Ghost Festival is upon us. Taking place on the seventh month of the Lunar calendar (which is Aug 3-31 this year), this is a time when the gates of the underworld unleashes its spirits to roam among the living. It’s also a time for those who observe the festival to burn incense and paper effigies for their deceased ancestors.

If you’ve ever wondered about what goes on behind the scenes of making papier-mâché traditional offerings, watch this documentary about the master craftsmen in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. Every year, this trio of artists in the Malaysian town build majestic, intricate structures depicting the King of Ghosts for the festival.   read more…

Happy Lotus Throwing!


Today is the Rap Bua Festival (“Lotus Flower Receiving Festival”)
in Bang Phli, Samut Prakan, Thailand. It is also called the Yon Bua Festival which translates as “Lotus Throwing Festival.”

The Lotus Throwing Festival is the better name as that is basically what one does at this festival: throw lotus flowers at a boat with a replica of the famous Buddha statue, Luang Poh Toh.

People gather along the banks of the Samrong Canal to throw the flowers at the boat as it passes by. The lotus flowers carry prayers and wishes to the Buddha. Flowers that land on the Buddha’s lap help make their prayers and wishes come true.

Living in Houston, Texas makes it somewhat of a challenge to participate in this festival, not unlike the experience of celebrating Hungry Ghost Month.

Yet, it is my experience of celebrating Hungry Ghost Month that has brought me here today, to The Lotus Throwing Festival.

And, to the creation of my latest iBook,
Through the Lotus Looking Glass…
133 lotus flowers I humbly throw at Luang Poh Toh.


Download a free copy of Through the Lotus Looking Glass.

Read more about The Lotus Throwing Festival here.

A lotus feeding frenzy.  Lotus Throwing Festival In Thailand