There are many misconceptions and taboos surrounding the lunar 7th month and more often than not, the lunar 7th month has often been portrayed by the media (movies, dramas, news and etc.) to be a very scary month. Now, I must say this, there is no such thing as the, “hungry ghost festival”. If you do a literal translation of “hungry ghost festival” from English to Mandarin, it is 饿鬼节, and it makes no sense to have a festival whereby we celebrate “hungry ghosts”. Furthermore, many people mistakenly believe that the entire seventh lunar month is the Zhongyuan Festival 中元节, which is incorrect. The Zhongyuan Festival 中元节 specifically refers to the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, just as we wouldn’t say the entire eighth lunar month is the Mid-Autumn Festival 中秋节.

However, yes, hungry ghosts do exist but not the celebration of it. Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify and share some thoughts from a Taoist perspective.

The following is a literal translation from what a Taoist Priest has shared in Mandarin and I have taken the liberty to share it here:

The 15th day of the seventh lunar month is known as the Zhongyuan Festival 中元节 in Taoism. It marks the birth of the Earth Official Deity 地官大帝, one of the Three Officials 三官大帝 in Taoist belief. In Taoism, it is believed that the Heavenly Official 天官大帝 bestows blessings, the Earth Official 地官大帝 forgives sins, and the Water Official 水官大帝resolves difficulties. Therefore, Taoist priests usually offer vegetarian meals on this day to pray for forgiveness for departed souls. In Chinese folk tradition, there is also the custom of ancestral worship and seeking forgiveness from the Earth Official 地官大帝 for the sins of ancestors. It is a day to honour all departed spirits.

The Three Officials

The custom of worshipping the Three Officials 三官大帝 dates back to ancient China when the emperor performed rituals to worship the heavens, the earth, and the waters. However, over time, this tradition has taken on a more eerie and terrifying tone, perhaps influenced by the popularity of horror movies in the 1970s and 1980s. Thus, tracing the origins, you might find significant differences between the ancient and contemporary observances of the Zhongyuan Festival 中元节.

What is the belief in the Three Officials 三官大帝 about?

The birthdays of the Three Officials 三官大帝 in Taoism are the 15th day of the first lunar month (Shangyuan Festival 上元节), the 15th day of the seventh lunar month (Zhongyuan Festival 中元节), and the 15th day of the tenth lunar month (Xiayuan Festival 下元节). Their status is highly revered in the hierarchy of Taoist deities because they are believed to oversee the three realms of heaven, earth, and water, maintaining balance and dispensing rewards and punishments.

The Zhongyuan Festival 中元节 also has its roots in ancient worship of the heavens, earth, and waters, which were considered essential elements for sustenance.

Hence, the Three Officials 三官大帝 were seen as the deities governing human fortune and misfortune.

As early as the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 CE), there existed the “Three Officials Handbooks 三官手书” for confession and repentance in the Zhengyi Dao of Taoism. The “Records of the Three Kingdoms: Biography of Zhang Lu” 三国志·张鲁传 explicitly states: “Write the names of the sick, express the intention of confessing sins, make three copies, send one to the heavens, place one on a mountain, bury one in the ground, and sink one in water; these are called ‘Three Officials Handbooks’.” “书写病人姓名,说服罪之意,作三通,其一上于天,著山上,其一埋于地;其一沉于水,谓之三官手书。”

This practice involved writing three confession letters, asking for forgiveness from the heavens, and hiding them on a mountain, burying them in the ground, and sinking them in water. These documents, known as “Three Officials Handbooks,” 三官手书 were offerings to the Three Official Deities 三官大帝.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912), there was a saying that “Zhongyuan 中元 sweeping is even better than Qingming 清明.” Families made various types of offerings to their ancestors during this time, while Taoist temples held rituals to rescue spirits and light lanterns to guide them.

In essence, during the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1912), the focus was on ancestor worship and salvation of souls. However, Chinese folk culture evolves over time, leading to complexity and changes.

Influenced by horror movies and drama shows, many individuals are unfamiliar with the Zhongyuan festival 中元节 and might even find it frightening. This fear of the “ghost month” in the seventh lunar month has led to a variety of “tips for good luck and avoiding misfortune” and related merchandise. However, whether these are based on religious texts or rooted in culture requires a wise interpretation.

In reality, the Zhongyuan Festival 中元节 is more about Chinese people honouring their ancestors and remembering them. It’s a day for chanting scriptures, offering food, and praying to the Earth Official 地官大帝for forgiveness and transcendence of sins. In Buddhism, the Ullambana Festival 盂兰盆节 is also significant for practicing filial piety. Buddhists make offerings to the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) and dedicate the merits to the well-being and longevity of their parents and ancestors. It’s a ceremony to help the departed find their way to a better afterlife.

Regardless, it’s essential not to forget the spiritual significance behind these festivals. For instance, the Zhongyuan Festival 中元节 is a day to honour the divine and ancestors, and we should approach it with reverence, not fear.

The seventh lunar month also features the beautiful story of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl 牛郎织女, so July isn’t necessarily ominous; it can even be considered a romantic month.

How Should One Make Offering During the Lunar 7th Month?

  1. Be considerate towards our environment and neighbours when burning offerings.
  2. Burn smaller amounts of joss paper to reduce smoke and ashes.
  3. Please clear up your offerings after prayers.
  4. Consider joining communal prayers in nearby temples.
  5. Burn responsibly, please don’t toss or scatter the joss paper.

Rumi whose full name is Jalal al-Din Muhammed Rumi was a great Persian poet and Sufi mystic from the 13th century. He was an Islamic scholar and theologian who inspired and is still inspiring several people with his poems and quotes. His influence has also transcended different religions, borders, ethnicities, and generations for decades, and this has made him widely popular even in the western world.

Rumi was born in the then Persian Empire in the city of Balkh which is in present-day Afghanistan. He then moved around and lived in several places before settling in a town called Konya, which is in present-day Turkey. This had led Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey all claiming him as their national poet; although, during Rumi’s time, none of these countries existed like the way they are now. They were part of the Persian Empire, which was a monarchy then. Other present-day countries that were part of the Persian kingdom are Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, and Uzbekistan. You can read more about Rumi here.

Why is He so Popular and Important?

Scholars of Rumi’s stature were few during his time. Due to this, they were respected, honoured, distinguished and were authorities in many endeavours. Hence, they acquired thousands of followers. Even till this day, several hundred years after his death, Rumi still has many followers. He was a wealthy man, a genius and a brilliant scholar. His life was full of drama, and it transformed him into a universal truth seeker after meeting a wandering holy man by the name of Shams.

His Writings

Rumi wrote over 3,000 poems, 2,000 four-line quatrains and a six-volume spiritual didactic epic. Most have a mystic touch, and they speak of love and divinity and are very philosophical. Although his poems were written in Persian, they have been translated into several languages including English, French, Chinese, Greek, and Spanish etc. His poems have widely influenced literature all over the world, and musicians and artists read his poetry at different ceremonies, including weddings. Rumi’s poems are also quoted endlessly by people on different platforms because they are full of meaningful life lessons.

Appeals to Emotions

Rumi’s poems and sayings are not only intellectual; people have been able to identify with them as it touches their emotions and hearts. You can find some of his quotes on love here:

Believe in the Equality of Humans

Rumi’s poems are a leveller because they generally deal with the human condition and are not offensive but respectful. It does not exalt a set of people, religion or creed over others, but believe in the evolution and progression of the human race. This is aptly shown by the fact that Rumi’s poems are read in monasteries, churches, mosques, and synagogues by Christians, Muslims, Jews, and even Hindus. Even people who are not religious have found them inspiring. 


People find a sense of universality and unity from Rumi’s poems. They also find it to be encouraging.


Any time a Rumi verse is recited, it inspires deep thoughts and right action such that some see it as a spiritual guide.

Cultural Bridge

Rumi was a Persian and also a Muslim Scholar, but he is read, recited and quoted all over the world in different cultures, languages, and religion.

Although the Middle Easterners and the Western countries do not see eye to eye on many fronts, Rumi has helped to bridge that gap with his poems.

Ways Rumi’s Quotes are Used

Rumi’s quotes offer timeless wisdom, and they have been adapted for use in several ways.

They can help provide relief from stress when used in meditation as a mantra in yoga exercises. With various recordings of the poems available, an individual may listen to them before or during meditation or a yoga exercise.

In places like Turkey, meditation-induced and inspired dancing called Sufi Dancing is common. These dances usually referred to as “whirling dervishes”, are a form of mediation that results in the healing of the soul and spirit. Rumi’s poems and quotes are usually listened to while this dance is being performed.

In modern times, quotes from Rumi have been used to inspire people through different means of prints such as on clothing and apparels as can be found on this website. They can be printed on walls, wall frames and made into different books or literature. They have been used in movies, quoted in ceremonies, and inserted in songs. They are also used in different memes, quotes and sayings to encourage and inspire others.

Rumi may have been long gone, but his works are still a source of inspiration and encouragement to people even till this day.

We‌ ‌have‌ ‌only‌ ‌just‌ ‌found‌ ‌our‌ ‌feet‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌year‌ ‌2020‌ ‌and‌ ‌already‌ ‌it‌ ‌feels‌ ‌as‌ ‌though‌ ‌time is passing us by rather quickly. Among some‌ ‌upcoming events‌ ‌this‌ ‌year,‌ ‌23 April 2020 is an important day for Muslims‌ ‌all around‌ ‌the‌ ‌world as‌ ‌it signifies the‌ ‌start‌ ‌of‌ ‌the Ramadan fasting period.‌ ‌

For‌ ‌those‌ ‌who are new to Ramadan, Ramadan‌ ‌is‌ ‌a 30-day long‌ ‌tradition‌ (lasting‌ ‌the‌ ‌entirety‌ ‌of‌ ‌a‌ ‌lunar‌ ‌month‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Islamic‌ ‌calendar‌) when Muslims‌ ‌fast‌ ‌during‌ ‌daylight‌ ‌hours.‌ ‌

The‌ ‌fast‌ ‌is‌ ‌one‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌commonly‌ ‌known‌ ‌aspects‌ ‌of‌ ‌Ramadan,‌ ‌which‌ ‌leads‌ ‌into‌ ‌Eid-al-Fitr,‌ ‌known‌ ‌as‌ ‌the‌ ‌Festival‌ ‌of‌ ‌Breaking‌ ‌the‌ ‌Fast.‌ ‌ ‌

Are‌ ‌you‌ ‌aware‌ ‌of‌ ‌what‌ ‌Muslims‌ ‌abstain‌ ‌from‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌hours‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌fast?‌ ‌

Here,‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌compiled‌ ‌a‌ ‌list‌ ‌of‌ ‌what‌ ‌is‌ ‌not‌ ‌permitted‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌dawn‌ ‌to‌ ‌sunset‌ ‌fast.‌ ‌

Food‌ ‌

Food‌ ‌is‌ ‌probably‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌widely‌ ‌known‌ ‌item that‌ ‌is‌ ‌given‌ ‌up‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌month‌ ‌of‌ ‌Ramadan ‌(with‌ ‌Muslims‌ ‌waking‌ ‌up‌ ‌early‌ ‌to‌ ‌eat‌ ‌before‌ ‌sunrise‌ ‌and‌ ‌only‌ ‌breaking‌ ‌the‌ ‌fast‌ ‌after‌ ‌sunset‌ ‌with‌ ‌a‌ ‌meal‌ ‌known‌ ‌as‌ ‌Iftar).‌ ‌It‌ ‌is‌ ‌a tradition‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌fast‌ ‌to‌ ‌be‌ ‌broken‌ ‌by‌ ‌eating‌ ‌dates‌ ‌before‌ ‌the‌ ‌meal.‌ ‌

Water‌ ‌

While‌ ‌many‌ ‌are‌ ‌aware‌ ‌that‌ ‌Muslims‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌eat‌ ‌during‌ ‌daylight‌ ‌hours‌ ‌during‌ ‌Ramadan,‌ ‌some‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌know‌ ‌that‌ ‌liquids‌ ‌are‌ ‌also‌ ‌off-limits.‌ ‌This‌ ‌means‌ ‌that,‌ ‌in‌ ‌some‌ ‌areas‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌world; Muslims‌ ‌are‌ ‌not‌ ‌allowed‌ ‌to‌ ‌drink‌ ‌water‌ ‌for‌ ‌‌as‌ ‌long‌ ‌as‌ ‌21‌ ‌hours‌,‌ ‌leaving‌ ‌just‌ ‌a‌ ‌three-hour‌ ‌window‌ ‌between‌ ‌sunset‌ ‌and‌ ‌sunrise‌ ‌in‌ ‌which‌ ‌to‌ ‌nourish‌ ‌themselves.‌ ‌It‌ ‌is‌ ‌important‌ ‌to‌ ‌note‌ ‌that‌ ‌there‌ ‌are‌ ‌exceptions‌ ‌for‌ ‌this; ‌as‌ ‌anyone‌ ‌who‌ ‌is‌ ‌of‌ ‌ill‌ ‌health,‌ ‌children‌ ‌who have‌ ‌not‌ ‌yet‌ ‌reached‌ ‌puberty‌, and‌ ‌women‌ ‌who‌ ‌are‌ ‌menstruating‌, are ‌not‌ ‌expected‌ ‌to‌ ‌fast.‌ ‌


Medicine,‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌over‌ ‌the‌ ‌counter‌ ‌headache‌ ‌tablets,‌ ‌are‌ ‌also‌ ‌not‌ ‌allowed‌ ‌during‌ ‌daylight‌ ‌hours‌ ‌but‌ ‌there‌ ‌are‌ ‌exceptions‌ ‌to‌ ‌this.‌ ‌As‌ ‌we‌ ‌have‌ ‌already‌ ‌covered,‌ ‌those‌ of‌ ‌ill‌ ‌health‌ ‌is ‌not‌ ‌expected‌ ‌to‌ ‌partake‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌fast,‌ ‌but‌ ‌this‌ ‌is‌ ‌more‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌realms‌ ‌of‌ ‌serious‌ ‌illnesses‌ ‌rather‌ ‌than‌ ‌a‌ ‌simple‌ ‌headache.‌ ‌That‌ ‌means‌ ‌if‌ ‌you‌ ‌take‌ ‌an‌ ‌aspirin,‌ ‌even‌ ‌without‌ ‌water,‌ ‌your‌ ‌day’s‌ ‌fast‌ ‌is‌ ‌obsolete‌ ‌and‌ ‌will‌ ‌not‌ ‌count‌ ‌and‌ ‌you will have to make‌ ‌up‌ ‌for‌ ‌it‌ ‌at‌ ‌another‌ ‌time ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌year.‌ ‌

Smoke‌ ‌

Smoking‌ ‌is‌ ‌also‌ ‌prohibited‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌fast,‌ ‌making‌ ‌Ramadan‌ ‌a‌ ‌popular‌ ‌time‌ ‌for‌ ‌Muslims‌ ‌to‌ ‌give‌ ‌up‌ ‌the‌ ‌addiction.‌ ‌Doctors‌ ‌claim‌ ‌that‌ ‌it‌ ‌takes‌ ‌a‌ ‌‌similar‌ ‌amount‌ ‌of‌ ‌willpower‌‌ ‌to‌ ‌give‌ ‌up‌ ‌cigarettes‌ ‌during‌ ‌fasting‌ ‌hours‌ ‌than‌ ‌it‌ ‌does‌ ‌to‌ ‌completely‌ ‌give‌ ‌up‌ ‌on‌ ‌smoking‌ ‌altogether.‌ ‌

Sexual Relations

As‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌giving‌ ‌up‌ ‌food‌ ‌and‌ ‌water‌ ‌during‌ ‌the‌ ‌fast,‌ ‌Muslims‌ ‌must‌ ‌also‌ ‌abstain‌ ‌from‌ ‌sexual‌ ‌relations‌ ‌during‌ ‌daylight‌ ‌hours.‌ ‌It‌ ‌is‌ ‌also‌ ‌obligatory‌ ‌that ‌following‌ ‌intercourse‌ ‌or‌ ‌ejaculation,‌ ‌Muslims‌ ‌perform‌ ‌a‌ ‌full-body‌ ‌purification‌ ‌known‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌Ghusl‌.‌ ‌

What‌ Else ‌Do‌ Muslims also ‌Participate‌ ‌in‌ ‌During‌ ‌Ramadan‌?

As‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌giving‌ ‌up‌ ‌several‌ ‌luxuries,‌ ‌Muslims‌ ‌do‌ ‌continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌show‌ ‌their‌ ‌faith‌ ‌by devoting more‌ ‌time‌ ‌to‌ ‌prayers ‌and‌ ‌donating‌ ‌to‌ ‌charitable‌ ‌causes ‌(‌see‌ ‌this‌‌ ‌for‌ ‌more‌ ‌information)‌ ‌during‌ ‌Ramadan.‌ ‌

Many also see this month as the opportune time to donate their zakat as they believe that the rewards that come with the payment are enhanced during this time of the year.

Now that you are aware of what your Muslim friends, colleagues and family members abstain from during the month of Ramadan; you can be really supportive towards them by being sensitive, respectful, and even fast alongside them.