Working for ghosts


Death sells, and behind the Hungry Ghost Festival’s carnival of souls, artisans craft religious effigies for a business that is very much alive and kicking.

The best part of the Hungry Ghost Festival comes at the end of the seventh lunar month, when a melee of Chinese limbs lift up statues of the Taoist King of Hell, Tay Su Yeah, from makeshift street temples and carry them for one last joyride around the streets of George Town. This ritual means that the spirits of the dead, after a month-long indulgence on those human pleasures they cannot find in Hell’s poorly stocked supermarkets, are all about to plunge back into the burning pits of the underworld through a powerful bonfire.

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