Spirits roam during Hong Kong's ghost festival

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Hong Kong Ghost Festival
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Spirits roam during Hong Kong's ghost festival
An Ethnic Chinese priest stands in front of statue made of paper of Chinese deity 'Da Shi Ye' or Guardian God of Ghosts set of fire by devotees during the Hungry Ghost festival in Kuala Lumpur, late on August 10, 2014. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, HongKong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Chinese woman prays in front of a statue made of paper of Chinese deity 'Da Shi Ye' or Guardian God of Ghosts during the Hungry Ghost festival in Kuala Lumpur, late on August 10, 2014. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, HongKong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese people pray as they watch a statue made of paper of Chinese deity 'Da Shi Ye' or Guardian God of Ghosts burned during the Hungry Ghost festival in Kuala Lumpur, late on August 10, 2014. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, HongKong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ethnic Chinese priest stands in front of statue made of paper of Chinese deity 'Da Shi Ye' or Guardian God of Ghosts set of fire by devotees during the Hungry Ghost festival in Kuala Lumpur, late on August 10, 2014. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, HongKong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Ethnic Chinese devotees burn incense sticks and pray before setting a fire to a statue of Chinese deity 'Da Shi Ye' or Guardian God of Ghosts during the Hungry Ghost festival in Kuala Lumpur, late on August 10, 2014. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, HongKong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An ethnic Chinese priest prays in a street during the Hungry Ghost festival in Kuala Lumpur, late on August 10, 2014. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, HongKong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Chinese devotee carries offerings in front of a statue made of paper of Chinese deity 'Da Shi Ye' or Guardian God of Ghosts during the Hungry Ghost festival in Kuala Lumpur, late on August 10, 2014. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, HongKong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
An ethnic Chinese priest prays in front of the statue made of paper of Chinese deity 'Da Shi Ye' or Guardian God of Ghosts during the Hungry Ghost festival in Kuala Lumpur, late on August 10, 2014. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the Chinese new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, HongKong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman tends a small fire to mark Yu Lan or Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 8, 2014. During Yu Lan, which runs throughout the seventh month of the lunar calendar, many people in Hong Kong tend small roadside fires, burn faux money and make other offerings that their ancestors can use in the afterlife, such as leaving out food, to appease transient 'hungry ghosts.' AFP PHOTO / Alex OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman and child tend a small fire to mark Yu Lan or Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 8, 2014. During Yu Lan, which runs throughout the seventh month of the lunar calendar, many people in Hong Kong tend small roadside fires, burn faux money and make other offerings that their ancestors can use in the afterlife, such as leaving out food, to appease transient 'hungry ghosts.' AFP PHOTO / Alex OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman tends a small fire to mark Yu Lan or Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 8, 2014. During Yu Lan, which runs throughout the seventh month of the lunar calendar, many people in Hong Kong tend small roadside fires, burn faux money and make other offerings that their ancestors can use in the afterlife, such as leaving out food, to appease transient 'hungry ghosts.' AFP PHOTO / Alex OGLE (Photo credit should read Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant removes his headband whilst in front of a dragon dance company truck at the end of a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers dance during a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers hold flags during a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers dismantle a dragon at the end of a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant stands in a dragon dance company truck at the end of a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant holds a lantern during a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers wearing traditional costumes take part in a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers take part in a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A performer wearing a traditional costume (foreground) walks past a man standing by a truck during a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers take a break during a parade for the Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong on August 22, 2013. The festival, celebrated in the seventh lunar month of the lunar new year calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, marks the belief that the 'Gates of Hell' are opened to let out the hungry ghosts who then wander in the land of the living while foraging for food. During the festival, food offerings are made while paper money and joss sticks are burnt outside homes to keep the spirits of dead ancestors happy and to bring good luck. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE LOPEZ According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is regarded as the ghost month in which spirits and ghosts come down to earth. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Artists perform a Chinese opera gets during the Hungry Ghost festival in Malaysia's northern town of Bukit Mertajam on August 16, 2011. According to the traditional annual Chinese festival the spirits of the departed walk the earth at this time of year with practitioners leaving out food to placate the hungry souls. The festival is celebrated during the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. AFP PHOTO / SAEED KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Artists perform a Chinese opera gets during the Hungry Ghost festival in Malaysia's northern town of Bukit Mertajam on August 16, 2011. According to the traditional annual Chinese festival the spirits of the departed walk the earth at this time of year with practitioners leaving out food to placate the hungry souls. The festival is celebrated during the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. AFP PHOTO / SAEED KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Artists participating in the production of a Chinese opera get ready behind the stage during the Hungry Ghost festival in Malaysia's northern town of Bukit Mertajam on August 16, 2011. According to the traditional annual Chinese festival the spirits of the departed walk the earth at this time of year with practitioners leaving out food to placate the hungry souls. The festival is celebrated during the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. AFP PHOTO / SAEED KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A visiting performer from mainland China applies makeup in preparation for a Chinese opera during a 'Hungry Ghost' festival in Malaysia's northern town of Bukit Mertajam on August 26, 2010. The festival is celebrated during the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Visiting mainland Chinese performers take part in a Chinese opera during a 'Hungry Ghost' festival in Malaysia's northern town of Bukit Mertajam on August 26, 2010. The festival is celebrated during the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A visiting performer from mainland China takes part in a Chinese opera during the 'Hungry Ghost' festival in Malaysia's northern town of Bukit Mertajam on August 26, 2010. The festival is celebrated during the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Visiting performers from mainland China prepare to take part in a Chinese opera during a 'Hungry Ghost' festival in Malaysia's northern town of Bukit Mertajam on August 26, 2010. The festival is celebrated during the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar among communities in southern China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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HONG KONG (AP) -- Countless hungry and restless ghosts are roaming Hong Kong, and the world, to visit their living descendants, at least according to Chinese convention.

In traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar year is reserved for the Hungry Ghost festival, or Yu Lan, a raucous celebration marked by feasts and music. This year the festival began Aug. 10. According to folklore, the ghosts who wander the physical world are ravenous and envious after dying without descendants or because they were not venerated by relatives who are still alive.

The hungry spirits need to be appeased, so ethnic Chinese around the world offer prayers to their deceased relatives along with sticks of joss, or incense. They also burn mock currency known as "hell money" and other paper copies of material wealth such as TV sets, mobile phones and even iPads and iPhones, which the ghosts use when they return to the underworld.

Neighborhoods hold nightly shows of shrill Chinese operas and pop concerts, with the front rows of seats always empty - reserved for the ghosts. The shows are accompanied by extravagant feasts of grilled pork, broiled chicken, rice and fruit. The offerings are made in the hope that the spirits will help them find good jobs, earn good grades or even with the lottery. The festival peaks on the 15th day of the lunar month - the most auspicious - when families offer cooked food to the ghosts.

Here's a gallery of images from this year's Hungry Ghost Festival by Hong Kong photographer Vincent Yu.

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