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Praying to Hungry Ghost

Praying to Hungry Ghost

Much have been told about praying to the hungry ghost during the seventh month but there are little information on how it is done. Some has called this praying to good brothers or road side praying. The date to begin prayers for this years 2010 chinese hungry ghost festival will begin on the 10th august and ends on 7th september.

It is believe that gates of hell opens during the chinese seventh month. Also called the hungry ghost festival. During this time, most chinese family would do prayers to appease the spirits and soul that come out to roam this world.

Prayers can be done alone or with friends and family members. Here are the process on usually how it’s done locally in malaysia. These are the basic….

Location is usually selected outside or behind the house/work premise. It must be done away from the view of the main altar.

Setting the ground altar. Place food offerings facing outwards. Food offering usually consist of vegetables, a pot of rice, sweets, biscuit, chicken, pork, fish and etc. (food offering depend on the capability of the individual). Rice offering can made be in 1,3,6,10 or 12 bowls. Every bowl should also be equip with spoon and chopstick.

There will be no incense pot so loosen the ground for the joss stick to stick up right. If the ground is cemented, have a disposable cup of soil as an incense pot.

Paper offering consist of hell notes and clothing are first pour onto the ground. Light up all the candles and place them surrounding the paper offering (if ground is cemented, only 2 candles would be use). One may also line up the candles in a row/straight line . Keep the paper offering in a distance of a feet so it would not be accidentally lighted.

Depending on the quantity of joss stick given, one may have 3 joss stick between every candles.

Facing away the house, with the 3 joss stick in hand, you begin by inviting the spirits of the 5 direction. Begin by praying 3 times forward, turn 45°, pray 3 times again then turn again and pray till u have completed a full circle from where you started. Each time inviting the spirits or soul to the feast.

Knell down and pray for good health and fortune. Pray 3 times . Stick the joss on the ground. Walk away from the offering about a few meters. This will provide privacy for the spirits/good brothers to enjoy their food. Wait till the candle is 50% burn before you could light up the paper offering. When lighted, one should utter about things that are auspicious.

Take another 3 joss stick and pray 3 times thanking the spirits and soul. Stick the joss stick up right to the ground. Any extra joss and candles should be thrown into the fire now. None of the joss stick, candles or paper offerings should be bought back into the house for future use. Food offerings are left on the ground.

Is it advisable to monitor the burning paper for fear that it may cause a major fire incident. This has happen before.

These are the taboo during prayers. All the above must not be done in a hush hush manner. One should not curse or swear during the prayers. Spitting is also prohibited. It is also advisable not to dress up in full red or yellow for this occasion.

Good Luck. 🙂

Visit my previous post on Chinese hungry ghost taboo if you wanna know more about thing that are inauspicious during this time.

Below:- Joss material and paper offering.

Praying to hungry ghost

Below:- Hell currency. If any of you is interested in purchasing any of these hell currency, do drop me a note.

Praying to hungry ghost 2

Below:- Basic setup

Praying to hungry ghost 3

My Time – – A web blog where i catalog chinese temples in malaysia.

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27 comments to Praying to Hungry Ghost

  • avatar melvin yap

    question….can this be done at anytime of the day during the Chinese seventh month?

    • avatar Myadmin

      Melvin, Prayers are usually done between 6.45pm till 6.00am. There are also some oldies that does it in the morning but it is usually for offerings to their ancestors. For praying/offering to ancestors, the sequence are a bit different.

  • avatar low

    thanks for the informative sharing….will try do a proper prayers in near future ….but if we do pack food like pork rice or chicken rice, can we serve it as per yr advice 1,3,6,10 etc in a box container?

    • avatar admin


      Yes you can but it would be more appropriate to separate the veg/meat and the rice. If you are using a styrofoam container, i suggest you cut off the container cover and place the meat on it while leaving the rice on the remaining side..

  • avatar Jason

    Hi, I would like to ask a few stuff regarding the hungry ghost festival. How does the praying goes about and are there different methods of praying for different dialect?

    I am also particularly interest in what are the offerings required for the praying process. Any special product that will increase your luck?

  • avatar Jason

    Also, I would like to ask is there any reference website or document that can help me understand more regarding this particular culture?

    • avatar admin

      Hi Jason, I believe there are many different method practiced around as there are many other item sold in the joss shop other than what is shown above. I have heard of people from different dialect who practice it differently but i would be difficult for me to track and write down all of this here. More information could be found on the web but mostly written in chinese. You could also seek your elders for more information. What is shown above are the basic that is usually practice here in malaysia. You could at your generosity purchase more paper paraphernalia for the prayers but for people with limited budget, these are the usuals.

  • avatar Tony

    Hi there.. I would like to ask.. what if i accidentally stepped on the offerings? is there anyway i could cure or any chances of me getting bad luck?

    • avatar AdminMy72dragon

      Hi, If you have accidentally step on those offerings, it would be best to consult a temple priest if you feel its effecting you.

  • avatar Ann

    Hi admin. My sister died last August 7 and it is under the ghost month of 2014. Her 10-yr old daughter keeps on seeing her everywhere. Is it okay to just light any color of candle and offer her favorite food, i.e, tocino and rice. What kind of prayer do we say? Is it just any prayer we know? And this we should do every week until August 24, right? Please advise. Many thanks.

    • avatar AdminMy72dragon

      Hi, I do not have any answer to your questions, Kindly seek your nearby temple priest for advices. I’m sorry for your lost and my deepest condolences to you and your family.

  • avatar Ann

    I heard that do not call people names during praying time. What will happen to the one that call and the one being called?

  • avatar Chloe

    What’s the biscuits for the praying called?

    • avatar AdminMy72dragon

      What biscuit are you referring to? The small ones with different coloured sugar on top? If so, it call Hua Bing / 花饼 aka Flower biscuit.

  • avatar JOANNE LEE

    I recently lost my grandmother in May. She was 98. Could you share with me the ceremonial rite for the 49 days prayer as my family is catholic while my grandma was a Buddhist.

    We would like to offer her a good 49 days prayer.

    • avatar AdminMy72dragon

      HI Joanne,

      Sorry to hear about you loss. I do not have the information you requested. I suggest you to obtain these information from a Buddhist priest.


  • avatar Peggy

    this is very informative and enlightening to me coz when i was young my grandma half chinese always say to us that during august ghost are more prominent, this is the reason why.

  • avatar prakash83

    Hi I accidentally spit beside the offering I didn’t notice until I saw the offering it has the small biscuits,peanuts I went down to my knee and apologies and wipe my spit I don’t know what to do need help…

  • avatar tom

    Hi when I walking I accidentally kick on the joss stick what should I do

  • avatar Carolyn

    Hi, I will be over seas on 1st day of seventh month. I like to pray for the 7th month at my new place. Can I come back and pray w mid month? Or will it be inconsistent?

  • avatar Angeline

    Do u eat the food left after praying?

    Do u pray with canned food as well?

  • avatar marione

    do i need to make the offer all throughout the month or just once during the celebration?

    • avatar AdminMy72dragon


      Offering are usually made once during the celebration. Some practice offering on the 1st day, 14th and the last day of the 7th lunar month.

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