LAST_UPDATETue, 19 Jun 2018 12am

Malay Celebrity Chef Good-Natured Message Of Tolerance For Hungry Ghost Month Goes Viral

 Pic: FlickrPic: Flickr

The Hungry Ghost Month is when the gates of hell will open and spirits will be free to roam the earth seeking food and offerings which the Chinese observe by offering sacrifices of foods, burning joss papers, chanting scriptures, and making lanterns.

Singaporean celebrity chef, Shahrizal Salleh has found himself in the spotlight after calling for tolerance and understanding of this ancient Chinese tradition in a Facebook posting on 3 August, which happens to be the first day of the 7th lunar month marking the beginning of the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Many city dwellers today might be unaware of this ancient Chinese tradition but venture into suburbs and communities with a high population of Chinese residents and you will spot piles of burning offerings on road kerbs and public open spaces.

Shahrizal, also popularly known by his celebrity name 'Chef Bob for Hire' had asked his fellow Singaporeans to not complain or make a big deal out of a temporary inconvenience in the spirit of multi-racial harmony.

"Ok guys. Our Buddhist/Taoist/Chinese brothers and sisters have started praying for their hungry ghost month. Please tolerate with their burning of offerings. How many days only what??!!

"If the bins are near to those living in lower floors like mine, try asking them nicely to move it to a further location. If they decline, find other means to combat with the smoke and soot. Close your windows. Blast your fans. Don't complain but find a solution," he wrote in earnest, going on to suggest ways how to overcome problems encountered.

The Ghost Festival is known as 中元节 (Zhōng Yuán Jié), a traditional Chinese festival and is celebrated by Chinese in many countries including in Malaysia and Singapore.

The sight of burning joss paper is especially common in Singapore which has a predominantly Chinese population and often the acrid smell of burning paper and incense can overwhelm especially if there are hundreds or thousands of offerings being burnt at once in a neighbourhood.

The problem with indiscriminate burning of offerings often causes concern in litter-free Singapore with its draconian anti-litter laws so the celebrity chef's call to respect the rights of devotees to celebrate their festivals, but asking for mutual consideration found approval with his posting going viral.

Netizens were equally supportive with their feedback.

Nizar Bigbear Zalco: Respect !!!!!..my sentiments exactly bro. Alhamdulillah.

Nurul Huda Shahrizal Salleh: so much love, so much respect! You are an inspiration brother! Let's hope we dont have to face all these keyboard warriors

Jason Tupaz: Great example of religious tolerance Bob. Big love, big ups!

Others echoed the celebrity chef's lighthearted note by making light of the discomfort with humorous comments.

Izhar Zak: Any happening getai shows to mosh lemme know..Gua off over the weekends. Hormat!

Tim Alden: Cover yourself in talcum powder cut a hole in a white bed sheet place over your head & hold a torch beneath. Things will soon get less smoky! Works every time!

Other social media posts about indiscriminate burning of offerings have also found their way online since the start of the Hungry Ghost Festival including the following humorous guideline on the proper way to make offerings to the other world contributed by our Singaporean neighbours.

Pic: FacebookPic: Facebook


- mD