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Conscious Channeler Edward Shanahan





The Gates Of Hell Are Open


In East Asian religions, a hungry ghost is a kind of ghost associated with hunger, common to many religions. Hungry Ghosts are often thought as just haunted tortured lost souls from Buddhist iconography who suffer from their greed, envy and jealousy. And this they make known openly to the living.


By Kennth Jacob Meyers

Preta, प्रेत (Sanskrit) or Peta (Pāli), Tibetan yi.dvags, is the name for a type of supernatural being described in Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and Jain texts that undergoes more than human suffering, particularly an extreme degree of hunger and thirst. They are often translated into English as "hungry ghosts", from the Chinese, which in turn is derived from later Indian sources generally followed in Mahayana Buddhism. In early sources such as the Petavatthu, they are much more varied. The descriptions below apply mainly in this narrower context.

Pretas are believed to have been jealous or greedy people in a previous life. As a result of their karma, they are afflicted with an insatiable hunger for a particular substance or object. Traditionally, this is something repugnant or humiliating, such as human corpses or feces, though in more recent stories, it can be anything, however bizarre.

The word preta is Sanskrit, derived from pra-ita-, literally "(one who is) gone forth," and originally referred to any of the spirits of the deceased - compare the English use of "the departed". It later became confined to a type of unhappy or malevolent spirit, and as such it was taken up by Buddhists to describe one of six possible states of rebirth.


Yu Jia Yan Kou - A Buddhist ceremony to help the spirits of the hungry ghosts find salvation.


Pretas are invisible to the human eye, but some believe they can be discerned by humans in certain mental states. They are described as human-like, but with sunken, mummified skin, narrow limbs, enormously distended bellies and long, thin necks. This appearance is a metaphor for their mental situation: they have enormous appetites, signified by their gigantic bellies, but a very limited ability to satisfy those appetites, symbolized by their slender necks.

Pretas are often depicted in Japanese art (particularly that from the Heian period) as emaciated human beings with bulging stomachs and inhumanly small mouths and throats. They are frequently shown licking up spilled water in temples or accompanied by demons representing their personal agony. Alternately, they may be shown as balls of smoke or fire.

Pretas dwell in the waste and desert places of the earth, and vary in situation according to their past karma. Some of them can eat a little, but find it very difficult to find food or drink. Others can find food and drink, but find it very difficult to swallow. Others find that the food they eat seems to burst into flames as they swallow it. Others, if they see something edible or drinkable and desire it, it withers or dries up before their eyes. As a result, they are always hungry.

In addition to hunger, pretas suffer from immoderate heat and cold; they find that even the moon scorches them in the summer, while the sun freezes them in the winter.

The sufferings of the pretas often resemble those of the dwellers in Naraka, and the two types of being are easily confused. The simplest distinction is that beings in Naraka are confined to their subterranean world, while pretas are free to move about.

Pretas are generally seen as little more than nuisances to mortals unless their longing is directed toward something vital, such as blood. However, in some traditions, pretas try to prevent others from satisfying their own desires by means of magic, illusions, or disguises. They can also turn invisible or change their faces to frighten mortals.

Generally, however, pretas are seen as beings to be pitied. Thus, in some Buddhist monasteries, monks leave offerings of food, money, or flowers to them before meals.

In Japan, preta is translated as gaki (Japanese: 餓鬼, "hungry ghost"), a borrowing from Chinese e gui (Chinese: 餓鬼, "hungry ghost").

Since 657, some Japanese Buddhists have observed a special day in mid-August to remember the gaki. Through such offerings and remembrances (segaki), it is believed that the hungry ghosts may be released from their torment.


In the modern Japanese language, the word gaki is often used to mean spoiled child, or brat. In a game of tag, the person who is "it" may be known as the gaki.

A "Festival of the Hungry Dead" is held by many cultures throughout the world in honor or recognition of deceased members of the community, generally occurring after the harvest in August, September, October, or November. In Japanese Buddhist custom the festival honoring the departed (deceased) spirits of one's ancestors is known as Bon Festival. In Inca religion the entire month of November is Ayamarca, which translates to Festival of the Dead.

In the 21st century European traditions often mark the celebrations of Halloween, All Saints and All Souls' Day as three different events. These usually begin on Halloween and continue until November 2nd, All souls Day. In many cultures a single event, Festival of the Dead, lasting up to 3 days, was held at the end of October and beginning of November; examples include the Peruvians, the Hindus, the Pacific Islanders, the people of the Tonga Islands, the Australians, the ancient Persians, the ancient Egyptians, the Japanese, ancient Romans, and the northern nations of Europe.

Megalithic people of Western Europe left dolmens, mysterious chambers of unhewn stone, typically capped with a larger stone. These dolmens were the burial places of great heroes, or markers to honor the spirits of faerie, who were believed to dwell within the hollow hills, a very strong connection to the underworld, and thus death. Food is still left out for the Faeries in parts of Ireland (and in many other places) today. The association between the Fairies and the spirits of the dead is still not fully researched.

Later Celts were known to offer a princely burial for their dead. The earliest Celtic graves of Hasltadt, Austria were found to have great stores of shields, swords, and torques — collars and armbands of metal. The Celtic culture originated much of the modern Festival of the Dead, as their great feasting holiday of Samhain (sow-en), complete with political gatherings of the day and rituals to the spirits of faerie, remains the foremost holiday in modern Witchcraft.

In ancient Egypt, funerary processions made their way along the river Nile, making offerings of food and wealth to the dead and to their pantheon of funerary gods and goddess. The dead were mummified to preserve the body, which was wrapped in the finest of linens, ointments, and perfumes, and bedecked in gold, copper, and jewel-encrusted garments. The deceased were provided with the treasures they enjoyed in life: tools and utensils, books, fine garments, art, magical amulets, and even great wealth of gold and gems.

Among the Native American Dakota Tribe, great mourning and wailing accompanied death. Women slashed their bodies until they bled. Men blackened their faces with ash. After the period of wailing had ended, tribes-people prepared a scaffold on which to burn the body of the deceased (the Norse had a similar method of sending their dead into the next world). The dead were clothed in their finest attire, their faces painted blood red to symbolize the power of life.

In Victorian era England, Death’s harvests were spun into gold. Ornate keepsakes were crafted from hair clipped from the newly deceased. Bereft widows and mothers of the day would weave at death’s loom creating intricate artwork rich with sentiment and honor. Mourning jewelry would be the final entombment of their lost loved ones. Death grinned from gilded cases studded with gems, on display in tiny mausoleums of crystal and gold. Perhaps the most enduring deathly contribution of the Victorian age is the Spirit Board, also known as talking board or Ouija board. This parlor game provided a way for both the expert and the novice to communicate between the living and the dead.

Turn of the century coffin makers carefully prepared their crafts by gathering up all of the shavings and saw dust, placing them within their morbid creation. For some believed that if any part of this final resting place should be brought into the home before its time, death might come calling before proper preparations could be made.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated each year in Mexico. Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the New World to find Meso-Americans of the area practicing a ritual, thousands of years old by that time, that seemed to mock death. In truth, these native peoples saw death as the extension of life, a passage to the next world, and thus it was not a mockery but a celebration. Festivities were held to honor the departed, not to belittle them. Unable to eradicate these practices, the Spaniards moved the ritual to coincide with the Catholic “festival of the dead,” All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day. The festivities, however, remained. Catholics inherited their own days of the deceased from the Celtic Festival of the Dead at Samhain, which was a time of great festivity and feasting. Mexican people still honor the festive celebration of the dead inherited from both their Meso-American and European ancestors.

In old New Orleans, European, African, and native customs of the dead were also mixed. “Touissaint,” French for All Saints Day, is the only remaining American celebration of the old European Day of the Dead. Immortelles (elaborate mourning wreaths), candle burning, and dining with the dead are still held in New Orleans cemeteries on this day. Salem and New Orleans share a unique connection. Both vie for the title of number one Halloween celebration city and each share a historical link with both Voodoo and European magic. In New Orleans, where a history of frequent disease and death prompted celebration and festivity, funerals were often accompanied by much revelry, evolving into such customs as “The Jazz Funeral,” “Death Watch,” the ever lively Wake — similar to the Irish Wake - and the Zombi.

Customs of the Dead are still practiced today by modern cultures. The dark hearse is an example. It is still considered by some to be extremely bad luck (and poor taste) to break this solemn procession. The dead command great respect even in today’s world. You can still visit a cemetery to find offerings of flowers, candles, and food.

The Ghost Festival (simplified Chinese: 中元节; traditional Chinese: 中元節; pinyin: zhōngyuánjié) is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday, which is celebrated by Chinese in many countries. In the Chinese calendar (a lunisolar calendar), the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month.

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The Ghost Festival in Malaysia is modernized by the 'concert-like' live performances. It has its own characteristics and is not similar to other Ghost Festivals in other countries. The live show is popularly known as 'Koh-tai' by the Hokkien-speaking people, performed by a group of singers, dancers and entertainers on a temporary stage that setup within the residential district. The festival is funded by the residents of each individual residential districts.

In Chinese tradition, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month (鬼月), in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. During the Qingming Festival the living descendants pay homage to their ancestors and on Ghost Day, the deceased visit the living.

On the fifteenth day the three realms of Heaven, Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is ancestor worship, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors even after their deaths. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mache form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. Ancestor worship is what distinguishes Qingming Festival from Ghost Festival because the latter includes paying respects to all deceased, including the same and younger generations, while the former only includes older generations. Other festivities may include, buying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities.

The Ghost Festival shares some similarities with the predominantly Mexican observance of El Día de los Muertos. Due to theme of ghosts and spirits, the festival is sometimes also known as the Chinese Halloween[citation needed], though many have debated the difference between the two.

The Ghost Festival is celebrated during the 7th month of the Chinese Lunar calendar. It also falls at the same time as a full moon, the new season, the fall harvest, the peak of Buddhist monastic asceticism, the rebirth of ancestors, and the assembly of the local community. During this month, the gates of hell are opened up and ghosts are free to roam the earth where they seek food and entertainment. These ghosts are believed to be ancestors of those who have forgotten to pay tribute to them after they had died, or those who have suffered deaths and were never given a proper ritual for a sendoff. They have long thin necks because they have not been fed by their family, or it is a sign of punishment so they are unable to swallow. Family members would offer prayers to their deceased relatives and would burn joss paper. Such paper items are only valid in the underworld, which is why they burn it as offering to the ghosts that have come from the gates of hell. Like in the material world, the afterlife is very similar in some aspects, and the paper effigies of material goods would provide comfort to those who have nothing in the afterlife. People would also burn other things such as paper houses, cars, servants and televisions to please the ghosts.

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Families would also pay tribute to other unknown wandering ghosts so that these homeless souls would not intrude on their lives and bring misfortune and bad luck. A large feast is held for the ghosts on the 15th day of the 7th month, where everyone brings samplings of food and places them on the offering table to please the ghosts and ward off bad luck. In some East Asian countries today, live performances would be held and everyone was invited to attend. The first row of seats are always empty as this is where the ghosts would sit. The shows were always put on at night and at high volumes as the sound would attract and please the ghosts. Some shows include Chinese opera, dramas, and in some areas, even burlesque shows. These acts are better known as "Merry-making".

For rituals, Buddhist and Taoists alike would hold ceremonies to relieve ghosts from suffering, many of them holding ceremonies in the afternoon or at night (as it is believed that the ghosts are released from hell when the sun sets). Altars are built for the deceased and priests and monks alike perform rituals for the benefit of ghosts. Monks and priests often throw rice or other small foods into the air in all directions to distribute them to the ghosts.

During the evening, incense is burnt in front of the doors of each household. Incense stands for prosperity in Chinese culture, so families believe that there is more prosperity in burning more incense.[4] 
During the festival, some shops are closed as they wanted to leave the streets open for the ghosts. In the middle of each street stood an altar of incense with fresh fruit and sacrifices displayed on it.[

15 days after the festival, to make sure all the hungry ghosts find their way back to hell, people flow water lanterns and set them outside their houses (a practice mostly found amongst the Japanese). These lanterns are made by setting a lotus flower-shaped lantern on a paper boat. The lanterns are used to direct the ghosts back to the underworld, and when they go out, it symbolizes that they found their way back.


A Month of Hungry Ghosts is a 2008 film about the seventh-lunar-month Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore. A Month of Hungry Ghosts is directed by Singapore-based American director Tony Kern and produced by Genevieve Woo, a TV news anchor and producer with Channel NewsAsia, and Tony Kern. The film was released locally in Singapore on August 7, 2008. The film is distributed by Golden Village Pictures, and premiered at Golden Village VivoCity, Golden Village Plaza and Sinema Old School.

In parts of Asia each year, during the seventh lunar month, it is believed that the gates of Hell are opened and all the souls are set free to wander the Earth. At this time, many spirits roam around trying to fulfill their past needs, wants and desires. These are the "hungry ghosts". Numerous religious rituals and folk performances, like street operas, take place during the seventh lunar month in order to try and appease the spirits.

This film captures the seventh-lunar-month rituals in Singapore, a world-class centre of business and culture inhabited by many different immigrants from other Asian countries. While the hungry-ghost rituals originated in China and are still practised throughout South-east Asia in various forms, they are slowly dying out in many countries or may only be performed for several days of the month.

Singapore is unique in that the rituals are brought to life throughout the entire seventh lunar month. At the same time, the immigrants in Singapore have brought their own native rituals to the small island nation where the hungry-ghost month still thrives. A Month of Hungry Ghosts captures these rituals and performances throughout an entire seventh lunar month in Singapore.

Tony Kern - Director/Producer
Tony Kerns works include narrative, documentary and animated films and videos. He owns a stock footage company TK Time-Lapse and won a Silver Award at the 2004 International Promax and BDA Awards and an Audience Choice Award for The Spooky Incident at the 2002 World Horror Film Festival.

Genevieve Woo - Producer
Genevieve Woo is a TV news producer-anchor with Channel NewsAsia and anchors the channels highly-rated Singapore Tonite every weekday at 10pm. She was formerly a copywriter in advertising and an newspaper editor. She also owns Vintage Bunny, an online jewerly store specializing in original handmade and authentic vintage jewelry.

Hungry Ghost Month Taboos From around the World:

Never wash your clothes at night or your grand children will suffer there whole life's long.

Do not allow small pets into your bedroom at night to do so will make the ghosts that come to visit annoyed with you. (Some Pets warn of ghosts in homes) They the ghosts will often strike you with serious illness that will last one year to the day.

Do not under any circumstances comb or brush your hair with anything but your hands and fingers. To do this spells real trouble. The hungry ghosts are said to make men impotent and women sterile for 5 years if you do not follow this dire warning.

Only take a full bath on Wednesday of each week. Wipe your body down with a damp cold rag each night steeped in green tea and rose petals. If you do not heed this you will suffer from great headaches and loss of being able to speak for one year or more.

Do not bare your shoulder or bare arm except on Tuesdays of the month.

Do not get any tattoo's or piercing this month they will never heal and you may die from it.

Only wash your hair with clear water and vinegar the entire month. to not do this spells loss of control of your bowels for the rest of your life.

Do not wear perfume or deodorant.

Do not cry this month. Hold back your many tears. If a ghost see's you cry then it will take your soul or possess you. If a child cries though their s no effect if they are under the age of 10.

If anyone dies this month have them immediately cremated and do not morn them until December. Pretend it never happened or their soul will go to hell forever for your misdeed.

Do not put trash out of your house to be picked up the entire month . One should wait until the month is over to throw something out of your house. This spells disaster that your children will not find happy marriage or wealth.

If a young girl does not pray each night from 7:PM until 10:pm she will surly never conceive a child of her own.

Young Boys and all men up to the age of 50 should not masturbate the entire month. To do so means the hungry Ghost will curse you to never father a son.

Yin Fu Dian 陰-福-殿 Ritual for the buried At Choa Chu Kang cemetery on 08.09.07



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