In Chinese Culture, the fifteenth day of seventh lunar month is observed as Spirit Day or Spirit Festival or Zhongyuan Festival (traditional Chinese: 中元節)or Yulanpen Festival. The Seventh month is called Spirit Month in Chinese and Buddhist culture. Spirit festival is also a traditional Taoist and Buddhist festival observed in other East Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Indonesia as well. It is also celebrated in some regions of SriLanka due to the prevalent Buddhist culture.
Spirit Festival 2023
Mon , 27th Nov 2023
The word Spirit denotes spirits of deceased ancestors and family members who come out of lower realms during this month. Traditionally it is believed that on the fifteenth day of Spirit month, the realms of both Heaven & Hell and the realm of the living beings on earth plane are open enabling both Taoists and Buddhists to perform rituals to absolve the sufferings of the deceased/Spirits.
Buddhists and Taoists perform ceremonies and rituals after the sunset to release the Spirits from suffering, since it is said that the Spirits are released from hell only when the Sun sets. Buddhist Monks and priests throw rice or other small foods into the air as an act of feeding the hungry Spirits.
In the evening, fragrant incense is burnt in the house entrance of every household. Incense signifies prosperity and purification in Chinese culture. Lighting incense in the entrance is believed to cleanse the Spirit’s energy. During the festival, the commercial spaces and many establishments close earlier than usual to leave the streets open for the Spirits. Chinese people set up an altar of incense with fresh fruit and sacrifices in the middle of every street for the Spirits.
All the activities during the whole of Spirit month includes preparing ritualistic food offerings, prayers to aid the Spirit, burning incense, and burning joss paper or origami of materialistic things like clothes, jewellery, and other fine things. Elaborate meals, mostly vegetarian meals are served with empty seats representing each of the deceased member in the family. This festival includes all deceased people of the family both from same and previous generations.
Fourteen days after the festival, people gather and set lotus shaped lanterns afloat on water to make sure all the hungry Spirits find their way back to hell. These lotus shaped lanterns are said to guide the Spirits back to the underworld, symbolizing that they have figured their way back.
Spirit festival dates between 2020 & 2030
Sunday, 29th of November
Friday, 19th of November
Tuesday, 8th of November
Monday, 27th of November
Friday, 15th of November
Thursday, 4th of December
Monday, 23rd of November
Friday, 12th of November
Thursday, 30th of November
Tuesday, 20th of November
Sunday, 10th of November