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Island of Festivals: Hungry Ghost & Ramadan

If you are in Penang this month, you are in for a treat!  Two major festivals: Hungry Ghost and Ramadan.

The Chinese are celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival where the Gates of Hell are opened. During the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar calendar, it is believed that all spirits (or ghosts) are given one month vacation to roam the earth in search for food and to visit their relatives.

The Muslims are observing the holiest of months, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is the month which the Qur’an was revealed. Also known as the fasting month, Muslims are refrained from eating or drinking from dawn till dusk.

Two very different traditions but both can be seen and experienced widely throughout the island.

Having lived outside of Penang for the past six years, I’ve missed the lively atmosphere of these festivities. For the first time, I am not complaining about the noise made from the outdoor concerts from the Chinese neighbourhoods as part of the Hungry Ghost celebration. And I considered fasting for a day to give support to my Muslim friends, but my toleration for hunger is too weak that I know I’d fail miserably.

Two nights ago, Mark & I headed over to the nearest Ramadan bazaar at Queen Street. A stretch of stalls occupying both sides of the street, selling an assortment of Malaysian delicacies to feast upon for buka puasa (breaking of fast).

Watch how Roti Jala (literally means "net bread" because of the shape) is made right in front of you. If you ever get tempted, don’t stop yourself.
Colorful kuih-muih (Malay desserts) to satisfy your sweet tooth. We had ondeh-ondeh, a pandan flavoured green glutinous rice ball filled with melted gula melaka (palm sugar). Yum!
 The street was buzzing, so I did a sketch to capture the scene of buka puasa.
After feasting, we walked a few minutes over to Chulia Street for a Chinese Opera performance that is staged at night to entertain roaming spirits during the Hungry Ghost month.

To be continued...

2 comments:

IyouweBlog said...

luv ur blog, it's artistic, luv the sketch abov and all the photos taken! =)

seasonwithspice said...

Thank you!