7th Lunar Month Festival
Zhong Yuan Jie ( 7th Lunar Month Festival 中元节) is a Taoist festival. In the early days, Taoism assimilated the traditional common belief by worshipping the San Guan Da Di (三官大帝 Three Rulers of the Heaven [Tian-Guan], Earth [Di-Guan] and Water [Shui-Guan]) as the celestial Emperors in control of the fate of disaster or happiness of human beings.
Tian-Guan gives happiness, Di-Guan forgives guilt and Shui-Guan alleviate dangers. Taoism designates the 15th Day of first Lunar month, 15th day of 7th Lunar month and 15th day of 10th Lunar month as Shang Yuan Jie (上元节), Zhong Yuan Jie (中元节) and Xia Yuan Jie (下元节) respectively. These Taoist festivals are linked with the beliefs in the Three Rulers. Shang Yuan Jie is the Birthday of Tian-Guan Ruler, Zhong Yuan Jie is the Birthday of Di-Guan Ruler, and Xia Yuan Jie is the Birthday of Shui-Guan Ruler. San Yuan Day is also known as the San Yuan Festival.
Zhong Yuan Jie is commonly known as “Pu Du 普渡”( 7th Lunar Month Festival). On that day, Di-Guan Ruler descends onto earth to keep a register of the good and evil deeds of people. Hungry ghosts are release from Hades to look for food and will wander around. During this month, people would visit temples to repent their sins, pray for happiness and avoidance of disasters. Taoist Priests would set up altar to perform rites to communicate with the underworld, relieve souls of the deceased from purgatory and to offer food to them.
Today, local celebrations of the 7th Lunar Month Festival or Hungry Ghosts Festival are relatively different from those of the past. Besides worshipping the celestial functionaries, setting up of altar to perform rites to communicate with the underworld, relieve souls of the deceased from purgatory, the distribution of happiness gifts, holding of dinner function and stage singing performance are indispensable activities of Hungry Ghosts Festival celebrations. The timing of the festival celebration is no longer restricted to one particular day, that is on the 15th Day of 7th Lunar month. 7th Lunar Month Festival celebrations can be seen all over the island city of Singapore from the first day till the last day of the 7th Lunar month, filling the whole month with festive mood to present a traditional portrait of Celestial beings, Gods and Ghosts jointly in common celebration and entertainment.