All Souls Festival
In Chinese culture All Souls Festival is one of the most important festivals of the year, and is celebrated by Taoist and Buddhist temples around the world. During the first half of the 7th lunar month, when the gate of the realm of the dead is opened, the souls of the deceased can be blessed and receive offerings. The festival also gives the living an opportunity to express filial piety, harmony and dedication by honouring their ancestors, relatives and friends who have passed away.
When a living descendent puts up a temporary memorial plaque, the ancestor is invited to come and listen to the sutras and to receive offerings. The temple is also open to the souls who do not have temporary memorial plaques installed. These souls will also receive food and the paper money burnt in charity. The souls are comforted by the food offerings at the altar, and the burning of incense, paper money and other gifts.
Most importantly, the festival gives all the souls a chance to listen to the wisdom of the sutras chanted during the days of the festival and become free by resolving any attachment, entanglements, or conflicts they had during their lifetimes.
There is a Chinese saying that “when the dead are at peace, then the living shall prosper.” By honouring and aiding the dead during the All Souls Festival, we hope that Heaven will reduce the suffering in this world and bestow blessings upon us.