Of all the festivals we celebrate in Singapore, Hungry Ghost Festival might be the most divisive, one that reveals the cracks and crevices of multiracial and multireligious living in Singapore.
For the duration of the entire seventh lunar month, there would be the smell of burnt incense in the air, flyaway joss paper on the roadside, and performances for the visiting ‘hungry ghosts’. Complaints of noise, ash, and melted candle wax are not uncommon during this period, and can well be cause for religious tension.
For non-believers, it is easy to dismiss much of these practices as mere superstition, a perception exacerbated by the media’s focus on the supernatural elements of the festival. What is less known is the tremendous amount of filial piety, devotion, and compassion that underpins the rituals carried out by individuals or religious groups.
In this issue, we use food as a lens to explore the universal themes of togetherness, remembrance, love, and legacy during the month of Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore.