In Chinese tradition, the seventh month of the lunar calendar is considered as the Ghost Month. People avoid conducting events like weddings, vacation trips, and other activities during this month, believing that it would bring bad luck.
It is also the season when they commemorate their departed loved ones. Tradition calls for burning joss paper money and offering food, including meat, to the dead. The more money one burns, the richer he or she will be in the next life.
Dharma Master Cheng Yen realized that paying respect and acknowledging our loved ones’ legacy need not be in the form of wasting money and harming the environment. She also shared that family must not wait for relatives to die before showing love and respect.
Such teachings formed the theme of Tzu Chi’s manner of celebrating the Auspicious Month, as it calls the Ghost Month, this year. The September 1 activity at the Jing Si (Still Thoughts) Hall invited 140 guests from the Filipino-Chinese community for a day of sharing compassion among friends and family.
The sons, daughters, and grandchildren served tea while kneeling in front of family as a way to give back the love and care they received. The following hugs and exchange of words of appreciation add to the heartwarming experience
“They’re the ones who are basically there for you ever since you are little. They’re the ones who give moral to you. I am glad because Tzu Chi is there to remind the kids, youths, and even the elderly that respect is very important so I’m very thankful for something like this,” says Jillian Limqueco who served tea to her grandmother.
After the ceremony, Tzu Chi volunteer Nene Uy shares about the harmful effects of burning paper money and killing animals for the sake of celebrating the Ghost month. She emphasized that the belief that souls receive the burned offerings aren’t true, instead causing air pollution. Praying for their peace is a good substitute.
“We better use our money to do something good and help other people using the money we have instead of spending it on fake paper money and incense. Now I donate my money to Tzu Chi Foundation using my parents and other departed relatives’ name to give credits to them,” says Uy.
“It was my mother’s tradition to burn things. Then later after hearing the teachings (of Master Cheng Yen) about the new way of celebrating the Auspicious Month, I learned that burning doesn’t really help the departed souls. It’s better if we would just sincerely pray for them,” shares Charito Chua, one of the attendees.
Inspiring the guests to take action, Tzu Chi Philippines deputy-CEO James Chua shares select medical cases from Bohol. One of those is Rejean Ligue who is in Taiwan for scoliosis surgery through the Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital.
Meanwhile, children enjoy watching the puppet show prepared by two Tzu Chi volunteers. It aims to enlighten them about the benefits of vegetarianism. Among other activities, the attendees deepened their knowledge on how to celebrate a more meaningful Auspicious Month.
These chairs are for the elders who would be receiving tea from their younger relatives at the tea ceremony. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A Tzu Chi volunteer arranges the food that will be served for the attendees of the Auspicious Month celebration before the program. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Attendees enjoy these apples, oranges, and sweet delicacies as their snack during the program. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Those who offer tea to their parents and grandparents will receive one of these stuff toys as a token. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Two children are kneeling in front of their mother as they offer her two cups of tea. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
A Tzu Chi volunteer discusses to an attendee the benefits of eating multigrain snacks. The multigrain mix on her hand is one of the Jing Si products which can be availed at the lobby of Jing Si Hall in Quezon City. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Tzu Chi volunteer Chieh Fang Uy gives her opening remarks to over a hundred guests of the celebration. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Two attendees are delighted to make each other’s acquaintance, as did most guests during the program. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
The puppet show aims to answer questions about vegetarianism such as its effects on a person’s health and benefits to the environment. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Tzu Chi volunteer Nene Uy talks about the relevance of vegetarianism in mitigating pollution. She explains that the usual way of celebrating the Ghost Month, which is through burning joss paper money and incense, would do the planet no good. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
People attentively listen to a discussion about a better way of commemorating the departed. One of those is by praying sincerely for their peace. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Tzu Chi Philippines deputy-CEO James Chua shares some medical cases in Bohol. One of those is Rejean Ligue, who is currently in Taiwan for her scoliosis surgery through Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Tzu Chi Youth performs an interpretative dance near the end of the program. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】
Attendees put their palms together and pray for their dearly departed at the end of the celebration. 【Photo by Luisa Cabato】