As per the Chinese wisdom, there is an increase in the incidence of accidents and deaths during the seventh month of the lunar calendar(during August). The Chinese believe that these incidents occur because of the underworld spirits visiting the earth. In the seventh month of the lunar calendar, people indulge heavily in festivities to please the many roaming ghosts. This is called," The Hungry Ghost Month".
The Chinese regard the 15th of the lunar month(14th in Southern China) as an important date to give a feast to the ghosts which is also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival. On this the day, the ghosts are treated royally. Huge banquets are held in temples and loads of fish, vegetables, meat and other delicacies are offered as sacrifice. Hanging lanterns are erected to guide the ghosts to the table during the Hungry Ghost festival. There are non-stop operas to entertain the ghosts during dinner and fake money is burnt so that guests can spend the money as they want. It cannot exactly be said that these festivities are celebrated in honour of the ghosts, rather they guarantee a safety mode from these paranormals.
By now, it is known that instead of driving away the ghosts, the Chinese believe in pleasing and making pacts with them so that they are not harmed. It is said that during the month of Hungry Ghost Festival, the gates of hell are opened to free the hungry ghosts who then wander to seek food on Earth. Following this, is another belief that if any of the ghosts had been wronged in their lives, they seek revenge on mortals. offering food to these dead and haunting creatures sends away all bad luck.At the end of the Ghost month, ghosts return back to their world.
After Buddhism was introduced in China, the Hungry Ghost Festival which is the day to honor ancestors took a different turn. Arhat Maudgaly?yana was Buddha’s enlightened disciple. After he attained arhatship, he began to think deeply of his parents, and wondered what happened to them. Arhat Maudgaly?yana was an exceptional monk as he could use his insight. With the help of his special powers, he saw that his parents were reborn. He saw and found his father in the heavenly realms and his mother took on the form of a hungry ghost(preta). Maudgaly?yana found out that since his mother had been greedy in her life, she had no choice but take the form of the hungry ghost. After seeking Buddha’s help, Maudgaly?yana succeeded in the rebirth of his mother in the form of a dog in a noble family. As per Buddha’s instructions, on the 14th day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar, Maudgaly?yana offered food and robes to five hundred bhikkhus. Because of these merits, Maudgaly?yana's mother finally gained a human birth and the ghost was appeased.
People in China believe that it does not amuse the ghosts if people divert their attention from them to anything else during the ghost month. Hence there are no weddings, special events, business deals or outings held during this month. Whistling leads the ghost straight into the houses so it is to be avoided. Badmouthing the ghosts is not a very good idea as it only shatters people and inflicts pain. Live spirits can be stolen away from the riverbanks by the ghosts so it means walking anywhere on the river side is a big no-no.