The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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7th Month Ghost Festival
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The 7th Month Ghost Festival usually begins between July to September depending on the lunar calender. In 2012 it begins on the 17th of August and on the 31st of August is the 15th day of the 7th month. This is the day where most Taoist or Buddhists offer prayers and incense offerings to the wandering spirits to appease them. Spirits are real and just because we do not see them that does not mean that they are not around, it does not have to be only during the 7th lunar month that you should be appeasing these spirits. It can be any day or anytime of the year.
One way of relieving sufferings to the spirits of the lower realms is to hit a bell or a crystal singing bowl or any of the metallic bell like instruments whenever you have access to it. By striking even once, the resonance of the bell or singing bowl actually stops their suffering for that moment. Burning sage leaves or resin incense is another way to appease spirits in your area or residence. Use quality incense for this purposes as quality incense have better fragrant and last longer. Good quality resin incense are purer and cleaner thus emitting white smoke instead of black smoke and even when it burns to the end it does not have a burnt smell.
Indian joss sticks comes in various varieties, my favorite is Naga Darbar Bathi, you can get this at most indian shop selling incense. It is very pungent and the fragrant last thru for at least half an hour or more. Some people can't take the strong fragrance of this particular brand. If that is the case you can always choose other brands that are not so pungent to your senses.
Use different incense burner for your Buddhas and spirits, do not use the same type while offering it to them. Say aloud when you offer incense or other fragrant offerings to the spirits or landlord spirits in your area and be clear that you are offering it to them directly. State your purpose and request clearly, do no forget to mention where you stay and ask for blessings.
Do not throw salt as salt hurts spirits, not even when you move into a new house. Prior moving into any house always remember to pray to the Earth God, Nah Tok Kong downstairs under a tree before going up to your new house. Mention your name and seek permission and ask for blessings.Read more from my previous articles on this subject:
When you are burning say a paper car or something unique to the spiritual world it is best that you indicate who you are offering it to by writing the recipient's name.Be always clear whom you are offering it to so that they will receive it without any problems.
Sometimes when things aren't going as smooth as it should be than we should consider doing these offerings to smoothen out the rough edges. Always respect the spiritual world and we should always teach our children to do so.
Last and most important thing is to always carry your protective amulet where ever you go especially during the 7th lunar month. Unexpected things can happen especially when the # 5 Yellow, #7 Violent , #2 illness and the #3 quarrelsome star starts flying into your chart causing distress. Amulets can be of great benefit in times like this.
You can cleanse your amulet by putting them under sunlight or hover it under resin incense and do purification mantras. A simple mantra such as NA MO PUT TAH YAH , NA MAH PAH TAH will do.You can chant this mantra 9 x while cleansing your amulets and blessing it.