Learning about getai and hungry ghosts
SINGAPORE, Aug 16, 2011 (Menafn - The Straits Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --When Mr Tan Junjie, 23, first came here from his hometown in China's Guangxi autonomous region five years ago, he did not know what the raucous night performances in his HDB estate in the seventh lunar month were about.
Nor did he understand why the first row of seats at these performances, known as getai to Singa-poreans, are always empty.
He was to find out about the traditions of the Hungry Ghost Festival from his Singaporean landlord, but yesterday, the final-year Singapore Institute of Management student found out even more about the customs of Chinese Singaporeans through a programme designed for new immigrants, students and working professionals from China.
The event, the first organised by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, had 33 participants from various parts of China, including Inner Mongolia, Liaoning and Sichuan.
They listened to a talk on Chinese customs here, watched the getai-themed movie 881 and were taken to watch a seventh-month dinner auction.
Mr Zhou Zhao Cheng, the social affairs committee chairman of the federation, the umbrella body for 200 clan associations here, said many Chinese citizens are often puzzled by certain Chinese customs here.
In Mr Tan's hometown in Guangxi, for example, getai are unheard of. There, people mark the seventh lunar month by burning incense and visiting the temple to pray for their ancestors.
Mr Zhou said some mainland Chinese are surprised that, in a city like Singapore, incense burning is still practised.
He said the response to the programme was positive, so the federation is likely to hold a similar one next year, perhaps with Singaporean participants as well to promote interaction.
The Hungry Ghost Festival, when spirits are believed to roam free, began on July 31 and will end on Aug 28.
Getai have been lined up in the heartland, all with their first row of seats left empty for the spirits.
Among the participants was Sichuan native Laura Ho, 36, who moved here two months ago with her Singaporean husband of three years.
She said she is impressed to see how Chinese Singaporeans take the opportunity to give to charity during the month, by helping the needy with basic household necessities bought with money raised at dinner auctions during the Hungry Ghost month.
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