Taiwan is primarily made up of two religions - Daoism and Buddhism, though many Taiwanese are able to practice both; the two are not mutually exclusive. I am actually having a hard time grasping Daoism, but each day I learn a little more...

For example, a celebration both Daoists and Buddhists partake in is the Ghost Festival which begins this Sunday, August 14. On this day, the Gates of Hell will open for about a month, letting in the disgruntled and abandoned spirits/ghosts, that have no one that typically take care and pray for them (ie. their lineage has been cut short). 

So people all across Taiwan - in their homes and in front of stores and businesses - will be placing delicious food and fake paper money on tables and lighting incense as they pray and read scriptures wishing these spirits well, and hoping to gain their respect. The more superstitious Taiwanese people will avoid doing any risky, potentially dangerous activities like swimming in the ocean, during this month, fearing being toyed with by the spirits.

In my family, my da jo jo (big uncle)'s family now holds the responsibility of holding the worship/prayer sessions. The main artifact is a wooden sculpture with the names of all the ancestors in the family's lineage engraved nicely into it. It's put in the center of a shrine. 

I will film and post videos from this day next week, but for now, I leave you with a video + a couple photos of a more regular "bai bai" or prayer/worship session for people's ancestors, so specific names of people who have passed away are worshipped. 

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Authorjustine lee