Photos by MJ Klein, including some food photos in this article.
Many of you might remember last year’s Ghost Month activites in our neighborhood. I spent most of my time at Shao-hui’s place.
One of the offerings I photographed on the way to Shao-hui’s.
This is a new store in our neighborhood, selling shoes. This is their offering outside.
Another Thai place in our neighborhood.
This is what Shao-hui’s place looks like these days. At the end of this month they are going to move to the building on the right, next door.
This is Shao-hui’s nephew, whom we call “Didi” (little brother). Didi wishes that was real money instead of ghost money.
This is what Shao-hui’s offering looked like initially. The basin of water and towel underneath the table is for washing up.
What was interesting this year, is that Shao-hui had a photo album of shots I had taken last year. She was looking at those photographs and comparing them to this year’s offering. When it was time for them to begin the actual celebration, Shao-hui called me to come outside and photograph them. Normally a private and personal affar, she wanted me to document everything on this occasion.
Ordinarily, I do not photograph people in the act of worship, but I want to reiterate that I was asked to do so.
Didi seems more interested in looking good for the camera!
Didi set off a pack of firecrackers, a normal element of most religious celebrations in Taiwan.
He placed the pack on a tree branch, lit the fuse….
…. and ran like hell!
Notice how this car is passing by on the wrong side of the road. This pretty much sums things up in Taiwan, folks. Fireworks are very often set off without regard for impact to others (notice the scooter 2 shots up), so hopefully you’re paying attention and can move out of the way without hitting someone else.
Once, Hui-chen and I were at the beach on a windy day when a group of people directly upwind from us were just about to set off a large (and dangerous) pack of fireworks, which would have been blown right at us. We convinced them not to do it. It was good that they agreed not to, but I’m still atonished that they didn’t even think about where the wind would blow them after they went off. That kind of thing happens every day.
I was able to get a nice group shot (notice Didi holding up the ghost money).
The sky became threatening but it didn’t rain. A few people commented that the dark clouds might be caused by smoke from all the burning.
Nearly everyone has a fire going in a ceremonial burner for sending items into the spirit world, through burning. Here we see Shao-hui’s kids getting into the celebration.
These fish were not part of the offering, and were grilled right after the celebration.
Across the street, the people who run the beef noodle restaurant were having their own celebration. They have a fire on the ground where they are buring ghost money, and the light and sparks coming from the side of the tree are from a pack of firecrackers just like the one that Didi set off earlier. The air quality goes down considerably during these holiday observations.
This is the fish, steaming in foil.
Clearing the offering table. Items that are offered are eaten, not discarded.
Our last shot for this article is a fried fish dish prepared by the chef in Shao-hui’s kitchen. This is a Thai style deep fried fish with a sweet/sour sauce that was unbelievable.
I outdid myself and drank 3 short bottles of Sang Som Thai Rum. I think that’s enough to last me for the rest of the week!