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World Celebrations: Hungry Ghost Festival

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Worshipping the Ancestors is common around the world, but what about when they come seeking you? That’s the scenario at The Hungry Ghost Festival in China.

These are the spirits of people who met untimely endings, resulting in a lack of burial rituals. Or perhaps they had died with unresolved problems, unpaid debts, or anything which would interfere with a peaceful afterlife. This year, on August 20th, the gates of hell will swing open at sunset and out the ghosts come, with their long, needle-thin necks because of lack of food. Relatives prepare for this by leaving food, mostly fruits and vegetables, on large open tables. Joss sticks and incense are burnt and paper items are also ignited and left as offerings to these wandering, hungry ghosts. Eventually, the ghosts have to return to the underworld, and they are guided by little paper boats illuminated by lit candles. Relatives can breathe easily once the candle burns out, as they know the destination has been reached. 

Learn more about these and other celebrations happening around the world this week on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, Saturday nights at 8:00 on KSTX 89.1 FM.

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Deirdre as born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and her first paid work was at the age of 10 with the BBC as an actress on "Children's Hour." She continued to perform regularly on radio and stage for the next eight years, at which point she was informed by her parents that theater was not an option and she needed "real" work.