During the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar calendar, the Taoist believed that ghosts and spirits would come out from the lower realm and pay homepage to their living descendants or relatives. Taoists would perform rituals to transmute ans absolve the sufferings of the deceased, a form of filial piety where descendants extend to their ancestors even after the deaths. Therefore, it would not be difficult to spot a red and white tent from afar. Today, we pop into one of these traditional rites in Margaret Drive. They would hold the last traditional ritual next to Blk 39A (since the entire precinct will be demolished next February).
The Last Traditional Ritual at Blk 39A
Steven had been involved in the traditional Taoist rituals for the past 40 years. Previously held in Bukit Ho Swee, the festive and ritual ceremony shifted to Margaret Drive. Initially, he was clueless about the nitty-gritty details and the taboos during the seventh month of the Lunar calendar. After his parents' death, he would organise the rituals to congregate his siblings, friends and relatives together to pay respects to their parents.
Steven, one of the organisers of the religious ceremony
During this month, it was believed that these ghosts wandered into earth to seek food and entertainment because their descendants have forgotten to pay tribute to them after they had died or they were not given a proper ritual for a send-off. Therefore, family members or the congregation would offer prayers to their deceased relatives and burn paper incense, cars and other "merchandises" so that their loved ones can receive them in the netherworld. Steven explained that they would also conduct prayers and rituals for other wandering spirits so that these "homeless souls" would not bring misfortune to them by "disturbing their families and friends.
Rows of incense used as "food" for the wandering spirits
Followers would also pray to the five "generals" who are known for their courage. These generals served as "protectors" for the followers so that the ghosts will be "detered" from intruding into the lives of the living people.
The Five Generals
Prayers will also be made to the "Black & White" guards, who, according to Taoist followers, are deities who are in charge of bringing wandering spirits to hell be brought in front of the King of Hell for judgment to determine whether they will be reincarnated or suffer in hell. It was believed that these guards will appear in places where there are homeless souls.
Black and White Guard and the King of Hell
At some rituals, there would be concert-like performances popularly known as getai to provide entertainment for the ghosts. You may wish to take a glimpse at these colourful performances that is defining Queenstown. Do not take the front seats! They are "chopped" by the ghosts =)
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