Muted Ghost Fest celebration

SOME 150 associations and temples that offer Chinese opera, puppet shows and kotai (singing performances) during the Hungry Ghost month will lower the volume of such performances during the evening prayer times for Muslims and to avoid having performers clad in sexy outfits.

Penang Teong Guan Association adviser Datuk Lim Yam Koi said associations and temples committee members had been informed of the prayer times and they had agreed to so.

He said the association had also informed kotai operators to advise their performers to avoid sexy outfits.

“We understand that this is now the Ramadan month and we respect our Muslim friends. The associations and temples have all agreed to lower the volume of the performances especially between 8pm to 8.30pm.

“It is not possible to cancel the kotai performances as most of them have been booked and deposits collected a year ago.

“Also, there are not enough Chinese opera groups to perform every night,” he said yesterday.

Lim said the association had no control over the dress code of singers of the kotai.

“The Gods will not approve of performances of scantily clad singers. Some of the performers cannot really sing, so they resort to dressing sexily to attract the crowd’s attention,” he said.

It has been an age-old tradition to have Chinese opera performances, puppet shows and kotai to entertain the community and wandering spirits during the festival.

This year, the Hungry Ghost Festival that started on Sunday coincides with the month of Ramadan that started on Monday.

According to Buddhist belief, the hungry ghosts exist in a separate realm where the beings suffer from great thirst and hunger that can never be satiated — a consequence of their bad karma.

The best way to ease their sufferings is to make offerings to the Three Jewels via the Sangha (monastic order) on their behalf.

The merits accrued from the deed could be dedicated to the spirits so that they could have a better rebirth.

In another development, the state government and organisers of Hungry Ghost Festival have reached an agreement for the stage performances during Ramadan.

State Domestic Trade, Consumer and Religious Affairs Committee chairman Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said the guidelines included conditions for noise control and for street performances to be decent besides not having offensive content.

Abdul Malik said he had discussed the matter with state Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow so that the kotai organisers would be informed of the Muslim (evening) prayer hours and would thus turn down the volume during such periods.

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