In Buddhist and Taoist tradition, a human who suffers from great need in life will come back as a Hungry Ghost, a restless, angry spirit constantly but futilely seeking satiety. They are often depicted as having huge bellies and tiny mouths.
"Greed is the emotion of the hungry ghost realm. The hungry ghosts are beings with huge, hungry bellies and tiny mouths and throats. Some inhabit parched lands where there is not even a mention of water for hundreds of years. Others may find food and drink, yet if they swallow even a little through their tiny mouths, the food bursts into flames in their stomachs. Generosity unties the hard knot of greed." -Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
During the Festival of Hungry Ghosts (Tết Trung Nguyên in Vietnamese), it is believed that the gates of Hell open and Hungry Ghosts wander the earth freely, seeking to appease their monstrous appetites and causing trouble for the living.
It’s an inauspicious time to begin new ventures or do important work. During the festival, people make offerings of food and paper money and other gifts to the ghosts, and pay tribute to their dead. The festival falls on the seventh lunar month. This year it will be August 15-30.
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