Celebrating the dead: The Yulanpen, the hungry ghost festival

Most of us are celebrating life…especially in today’s covid and rightly so. Many cultures around the globe including Hong Kong, observe a day or a period where the dead, ghost or spirits are in focus. This year our very own Yulan pen or the Hungry Ghost festival will be celebrated this month on the 21st of August. But before we get into its specificities let's widen our horizons to take a tour of how some other cultures celebrate the dead.


Dia de los Muertos or (Day of the Dead) in Mexico is a celebration that traces its earliest roots to the Aztec people in what is now central Mexico. The Aztecs used skulls to honor the dead a millennium before the Day of the Dead celebrations emerged.


For the Hindus, the ancestors are celebrated during Pitri Paksha, a lunar cycle that lasts for 16 days. Within this period, with prayers and rituals the Hindus pay homage to their pitrus or ancestors who have passed on. A variety of foods and dishes are offered to dogs, cows and crows during this time


Similarly, Christian celebrations of All Saints' Day held in November. It’s intent is to celebrate all the saints, including those who are no longer celebrated, or are not celebrated individually.