Trying to plan where to be when? Check out these festivals in Southeast Asia in July!
(Featured image: Ancestor offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival)
Hungry Ghost Festival – Chinese Communities in South East Asia
Every year for a whole month, Chinese people believe that the ghosts of their ancestors descend to earth to wander the earth in search of food! Although you may not actually bump into one of the actual ghosts, you will encounter the festival alive and well in Chinese communities all across South East Asia from Phuket in Thailand, to Penang in Malaysia. You’ll see offerings left outside temples and houses to appease the hungry ghosts, as Chinese people believe that their ancestors can bring them good luck. There are also Chinese Opera performances and puppet shows taking place in lively Chinatowns everywhere.
Metatah (Tooth Filing Ceremony) – Bali, Indonesia
Metatah is an interesting ritual carried out by Balinese Hindus, that generally takes place during this time of year. The ceremony marks the passage from childhood to adulthood and filing the teeth is said to cleanse the body and mind of invisible evil spirits. Balinese belief systems view teeth as a symbol of lust, greed, anger and jealousy, among other vices.
George Town Festival – Penang, Malaysia
George Town Festival (GTF) is a month-long celebration of art, music, theatre, dance, opera and film to commemorate George Town’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage listing on 7 July, 2008. Each year since 2009, GTF transforms George Town Penang into an exciting and unique platform for the arts, heritage and culture. The festival creative local talents and internationally acclaimed performances of art, theatre, music, dance, opera and film screenings. Check out their website for more information.
Indonesia Independence Day
Each year, every neighbourhood holds friendly contents of hilarious games, such as climbing oily trees to reach gifts placed in the branches, the sack race (jumping race with your feet inside a bag), biting the krupuk (using your mouth to collect coins from a melon covered in black slippery oil… Good wholesome family fun where everyone from the old to the young gets involved.
Merdeka Day – Malaysia
Throughout the country, Merdeka day is a day of national pride and a celebration of cultural heritage. The event commemorates Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957. Particularly in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, there are parades, performances and events taking place on this momentous day. Head to Independence Square to witness the celebrations.
Taung Byone Nat Festival – Taung Byone Village near Mandalay, Burma/Myanmar
This festival is known as the major gathering spot for spiritual mediums. Hundreds of mediums (Nat-Kadaw) and thousands of pilgrims come once a year to Taung Byone, where the statues of two brothers (who died mysteriously after forgetting to provide two bricks for the Pagoda of Wishes), are placed in a shrine and there stands still the “Pagoda of Wishes” with the two missing stones. It is the most impressive Nat (spirit) Festival in Myanmar. Offerings and dances, the inflow of merchants, the constant arrival of pilgrims and the intensive use of loudspeakers continue day and night.