Practise SOPs, clean up after yourselves, SMC chairman reminds those marking Hungry Ghost Festival

A street cleaner clearing a roundabout of offering and prayer paraphernalia.

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SIBU, Aug 22: The burning of prayer paraphernalia and offerings in conjunction with the start of the Mid-Year Festival or more widely known as “Hungry Ghost Festival” began last night.

It is believed the gates of hell opened last night and adherents were seen by the roadside and at roundabouts making offerings in the form of food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, as well as paper form of material items such as clothes, gold and other goods.

Sibu Municipal Council chairman Clarence Ting made a strong appeal to those burning prayer paraphernalia and making offerings to clear the site the next day.

“I would like to remind celebrants that after the ‘sacrifice’, they should go back to the place as soon as possible the next day to clean up the venue so as to maintain environmental hygiene and cleanliness,” he urged.

The council, he said, had received applications from the public to make offerings which includes the burning of paper money at different locations in the town area.

Ting called on them to comply with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) involving public gatherings in force to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“I would like to remind everyone that we are in the midst of a large outbreak and the Delta variant is already in Sibu. Please continue to comply with strict SOP at public gatherings,” he urged.

However, according to the Chinese belief, these offerings should not be cleared immediately the next morning, said Buddhist Chua Tung Wei.

“The offerings should be left at the site for between one to two days. Why? Because we believe that we need to give enough time for some of our deceased good brothers to collect them,” he explained.

Chua, 56, is also the chairman of non-govermental organisation Sibu Great United Club.

“Offerings are usually made at roundabouts and by the roadside to enable the wandering spirits to collect them. This has been the tradition which has passed down from generation to generation,” he said.

Those making the offerings are mostly from the working class aged between 20 to 30-years-old, he added.

“They are especially those operating their own business and those working outstation who make offerings to appease the spirits for the success of their endeavours,” he stressed.

Another Buddhist, Robert Chew, said roadside offerings are mostly or usually at spots where accidents have occurred.

“In Taoism or Feng Shui, it is said that crossroad junctions are ‘dead spot centres’ for making offerings,” he said. — DayakDaily