Scenes from the Ghost Festival

We were in Penang, Malaysia, during the Ghost Festival. The Ghost Festival is a Chinese holiday during which, it is believed, the gates of Heaven and Hell open and the dead return to earth in search of food and entertainment. Clans erect tents and set out enormous banquets for the dead, families offer food to their deceased ancestors, and they also burn piles of “hell bank notes,” money which has value in the afterlife.

A few more shots:

In addition to family offerings, community groups stage performances in the street for the week. Some of the shows are flashy and well-attended, and some of them aren’t. The visible audience size doesn’t matter, however, since the performances aren’t held for the enjoyment of the living.