By THE NATION
The 10th Lunar Festival is a major event in the religious calendar of southern Buddhists, an occasion to show respect and gratitude to their dead ancestors with merit-making ceremonies.
A highlight is the Ching Pret ceremony in which alms are offered to Prets (hungry ghosts).
Haunted by desire and attachment in life, the ghosts are afflicted with an insatiable hunger for a particular item or substance – symbolised by their emaciated bodies, small mouths and large, grasping hands.
At the temple, snacks and drinks are placed on a high platform so that Pretas can reach them.
Once the spirit feast is over, locals rush to snatch (“ching”) the snacks, now believed to be blessed by spirits of their grateful ancestors.