Even ghosts need entertaining

On monday evening, I saw the flickering orange flames from the burning of hell money and joss-sticks. As I walked back home, I noticed a red and white tent and a platform being erected.

Red and White Tent at Hungry Ghost Festival

Picture by amorphity

By tuesday night, I could hear the loud singing of the getai. And I knew then it was the Hungry Ghost Festival.

The Taoist belives that during the month of the Hungry Ghost Festival, the gates of hell opens up and the spirits of the dead goes back to earth to seek food and visit their living relatives.

As there isnt much food and entertainment in hell, Taoists will burn paper articles such as paper clothes and leave plates of buns and fruits for their deceased loved ones.

Hell Money during Hungry Ghost Festival

A getai is a stage performance, meant to entertain the spirits during the Hungry Ghost Festival. These performance are loud, with jokes and singing. The entertainers would typically wear garish outfits.

A getai performance at Hungry Ghost Festival

Traditionally, instead of getais, I remember that the Chinese Opera was a very popular event during my childhood days of the 80’s. It seems to be dying art form now though. I can hardly find one anymore.

On wednesday night after my night class, I managed to catch a getai performance. Here is a short clip :

Sidenote: Yesterday, a respected colleague passed away on an accident in Kuala Lumpur on his way back to Singapore. Today, Juli told me that two of our ex-schoolmates passed away recently. Gone too soon.

I know that we are mortals. But it still shocks me. I cannot imagine how I will cope when my loved ones pass on.

11 Replies to “Even ghosts need entertaining”

  1. If the performers are good, I don’t mind a listen now and then, but mostly the bad sound systems at these performances make them noise pollution more than anything else.

  2. Edroos

    Truth be told, I havent felt compelled to watch 881 as of yet. But who knows what will happen in the future, hehe.

    I actually saw an interesting segment about getai when watching the travel series starring that Indian-Caucasiam lady who hosted that game show. Gosh, I dont remember her name.


    I had to sleep with my windows closed because of the smoke. It hurt my eyes. I think that effects me more than the sound – not to say that noise pollution is good 😛


    I think the getai performance for Jurong is over. I didnt hear anything on thursday night 😛

    Homesafez, Mandom and Edroos

    It still feels unreal to me … truth be told, I wasnt that close to my ex-schoolmates because we were from different streams. But its still shocking to me. You never expect these people to be the first to go. Because they are so lively, so full of life.

    In my mind I think its hard to accept. If this is what I feel for someone that I dont know so well, imagine how it would be like for the people I love?

  3. Haiz.. it’s like that… ppl jus go away jus like that… and I wonder if I will go away like that too..=( truthfully… I’m afraid of dying…

    Oh.. hungry ghost fes huh… I’m looking forward to eating mooncake!!

  4. Arzhou

    I’m sorry about it too :


    I think that its a circle of life, when you reached a full, fruitful life at about 80, 90, that would be a good age to expire. But to go at such a young age is quite difficult to comprehend.

    Mooncakes? That reminds me of the mooncake festival at the Chinese Garden. It would look so beautiful there

  5. The burning of hell money & all that paper stuff should be banned. It’s like haze season all over again! People are dying here from the smoke! It really pollutes the environment too.

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