It’s that time of year again when you need to be careful where you step. Yup, Hungry Ghost Festival or Zhong Yuan Jie is just around the corner.
This year’s Ghost Day falls on 2 September in 2020, the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. The celebrations and rituals begin at the start of the 7th month, 19 August 2020, and last until the lunar month’s end, 17 September 2020.
Taoists and Buddhists in Singapore believe that gates of Heaven and Hell open during the Hungry Ghost Festival, allowing the deceased to enter the realm of the living. People usually burn joss paper as offerings to their deceased ancestors. I’m sure you’ve also seen fancy items such as luxury cars and bungalows as well.
Hungry Ghost Festival is also when getai performances are held. In the pre-COVID-19 days, you’d see makeshift stages pop up all over the heartlands with performers in sequins belting out Hokkien tunes. Now, the stage has shifted online, with views for popular getai singers even hitting a million.
From 19 August to 16 September 2020, seventh month prayer services with up to 50 people will be authorised. Burning of incense and joss paper will be allowed, but singing and live performances such as getai will unfortunately not be allowed to take place this year.
Do’s and don’ts during the Hungry Ghost Festival
Ensure your ancestors a better afterlife by all means, but not at the expense of the living! For non-believers, try not to wreck other people’s offerings to their deceased relatives.
Here are some good practices to observe during the Hungry Ghost Festival:
- Use the bins provided by the town council to burn your offerings.
- Use the burner cover to prevent ash from flying everywhere.
- Don’t burn on the pedestrian path, pavement or turf.
- Do not disturb or step on offerings, incense, candles or ash you might come across.
- Do not step into any white circles drawn on the pavement.
If you or a family member are planning to buy joss paper to burn this Hungry Ghost Festival, you might be pleased to know that many shops now accept online orders in order to minimise physical contact during the COVID-19 pandemic.
8 shops to buy joss paper or kim zua online
|Shop||Price of kim zua package||Delivery fee|
Free for orders of $100 and above
Free for orders of $100 and above
|Joss Market||From $138||
$7 (minimum order $100)
Free for orders of $150 and above
|Huat Cai Kim Zua||From $8.80||
$7 (Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Sengkang only)
$10 (rest of Singapore)
|Kim Zua King||From $138||$13.58 (for packages)|
|Kim Zua Diam||From $52||Free|
|SYH||–||Lazada, Shopee or FairPrice shipping charges|
|Chye Seng Joss Paper||From $50||
$10 (minimum order $50)
Free for orders above $100
On top of a hilarious tagline “We have money to burn”, Kimzua.com.sg also offers comprehensive Hungry Ghost bundles in addition to their usual selection of joss paper, incense and candles.
At time of writing, they’re offering 7% off their 7th Month Hungry Ghost Festival packages, so the $50 package will now cost you $46.50. With the discount applied, packages range from $46.50 to $1,291.
They also sell 7th month essentials separately, including joss paper, hell money, incense, candles and all manner of paper models, from clothes to private jets.
This shop, whose name means “to bless and protect” in Chinese, sells a range of products used for Buddhist and Taoist offerings, including candles and oil, confectionery and wine, joss sticks, joss paper and paper models, including bungalows and yachts. They’ve also got 7th month pre-packed bundles starting at $3.80.
Their 7th month packages range from $88 to $1,288, depending on how opulent you want your ancestors’ afterlife to be.
As their name suggests, Joss Market specialises in burnables such as joss paper, incense, joss paper, candles and paper models, with a focus on “necessities” like clothing, shoes, shaving kits, pillows and so on. They’ve also got 7 month pre-packed Praying Packages ranging from $13.80 to $120.
Their five Hungry Ghost Festival Joss Paper Kimzua Packages range from $138 to $588. The $138 package also includes oranges, apples and a pineapple.
Huat Cai Kim Zua
This shop, whose tagline is “Burn until Huat”, sells all manner of burnables, from joss sticks and gold joss paper for deities to joss paper and paper effigies for ancestors.
Their Seventh Month Basic Package costs just $8.80, while the Deluxe Package costs $28, making it one of the most affordable packages on this list, perfect for ancestors who loved a good bargain during their lifetimes. These packages are a little more bare-bones than the more expensive ones put together by other shops, but they still do the job.
Use the coupon code Happy2Years2020 for an added discount.
Kim Zua King
Kim Zua King sells their products on Lazada, with their range of offerings encompassing joss paper, pineapple candles and “Huat” prayer oil.
They’re now offering 7th month joss paper sets ranging from $14.80 to $288. Do note, however, that what they call “7th month pack” is not the same as the packages offered by many other shops. Instead, they’re more like “pre-packed boxes” or “praying packages”, which contain gold sheets and hell notes but not items such as traditional clothing.
The only true 7th month package is their Lucky Package, which costs from $138 to $288.
Kim Zua Diam
This friendly neighbourhood kim zua shop sells joss paper, incense, candles, hell notes and a selection of paper effigies, including shoes, handbags, cigarettes, beer cans, iPads and massage chairs, so your ancestors can indulge in all they want.
Their 7th month packages are available on their Facebook page and cost from $52 to $1,076. Delivery for these packages is free.
SYH is a local brand whose products can be found on Lazada and Shopee. They also sell basic items like joss paper and prayer packs at NTUC FairPrice.
They don’t have any Hungry Ghost Festival packages at the moment, but they offer a quick and reliable way to get your hands on reasonably priced joss paper and hell notes. For more elaborate offerings such as candles or paper Rolls Royces, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Chye Seng Joss Paper
The name of this shop sounds like an ironic hipster cafe’s, but their atmosphere is, er, quite different. They’ve got a full range of Taoist products, including incense, ingots, candles, joss paper, joss sticks and paper effigies. They’ve also got products imported from Taiwan, including joss sticks, candles and gold sheets.
Their 7th Month Packages are priced at $50 to $300, and they also have a range of Hungry Ghost products, from reincarnation paper ingots to clothes. Their paper models include private houses and condos, rice cookers, yachts and a durian set, which are precisely what your deceased relatives will need for a happy afterlife.
What do you look for in a Seventh Month Package? Let us know in the comments!