Hungry Ghost Festival auction dinner raises RM118,000 for charity

SEA Park Poh Toh Association chairman Gan Keng (left) presenting the "black gold" to the successful bidder (right) at RM 39,999

A total sum of RM118,439 was raised through the auction of seven auspicious items at a Hungry Ghost charity auction dinner held outdoor at Jalan 21/17 in Section 21 SEA Park, Petaling Jaya recently.

The funds would go to temples and various charities and for use in organising the following year’s Hungry Ghost Festival, also known as Poh Toh.

Organised annually by the SEA Park Poh Toh Association, the 200-table dinner, said to be the largest Poh Toh charity auction dinner in Petaling district, saw tables and chairs laid out on the streets of Jalan 21/17 and the adjoining Jalan 21/11B for the 2,000 guests to have their meal.

A successful bidder (right) received the vase he bided at RM20,000

Organising chairman Gan Keng said he was happy with the strong support shown by the community in keeping alive a tradition of appeasing hungry ghosts and safeguarding the unique Chinese cultural heritage for the present and future generations.

During the auction, successful bidders paid high prices for the seven auspicious items that went under the hammer. These items were blessed by Taoist priests and believed to bring good fortune and prosperity to successful bidders for the year ahead.

Sungei Way Nine Emperor Gods Temple chairman Yap Yit Leong (right) receives a mock cheque for RM13,000 at the charity auction night dinner.
Guests taking their Chinese course meal at the Hungry Ghost Festival charity auction dinner in Section 21, SEA Park, Petaling Jaya.
All smiles for a successful Hungry Ghost Festival charity auction dinner. On the far left is SEA Park Poh Toh Association chairman Gan Keng with his VIP guests.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua (right) is a guest at the Hungry Ghost Festival charity auction dinner in Section 21 SEA Park, Petaling Jaya.
The 200-table dinner in Jalan 21/17 is believed to be the largest Poh Toh charity auction dinner in Petaling Jaya district.
The organising committee of the SEA Park Poh Toh Association which organised the Hungry Ghost Festival 2012 celebration.

Among the items won by successful bidders was an elaborately decorated charcoal item known as “black gold” with the highest bid at RM39,999. Others included a vase (highest bid RM20,000) and abacus (highest bid RM15,888).

Gan, who is SEA Park Poh Toh Association chairman, also announced donations of RM10,000 from deputy finance minister Dato’ Donald Lim Siang Chai, RM5,000 from Petaling Jaya Utara federal development coordinator Wong Sai Hou and RM1,000 from Barisan National (BN) liaison officer for DUN Kampung Tunku Kelvin Chong to the association for its charitable activities.

On the same evening, a total sum of RM49,298 was given to 14 charitable bodies, organisations, temples, schools and individuals. Among the recipients were Sungei Way Nine Emperor Gods Temple (RM13,000), Taman Paramount Old Folks Home (RM3,000) Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sri Utama (RM2,000), Lion Dance Troupe of University Malaya (RM2,000) and Sau Seng Lum Temple (RM1,000).

Guests present included community leaders, business community and Petaling Jaya Utara member of parliament Tony Pua.

A note about the Hungry Ghost Festival:

The Hungry Ghost Festival is a religious festival observed by Taoists throughout the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar where offerings of prayers, food and performances are held by the living to appease the ghosts who may disrupt their lives and bring bad luck to them.

Regarded as a Ghost month, Taoists believe the gates of hell are opened during this period to allow the ghosts freedom for a month to roam the world in search of food and “they” would return to where they come from on the last day of the month.

The celebration was held from August 17  to September 15 this year.

While Taoists would make offerings of food and prayers to the ghosts outside their homes in the evenings, the Chinese (Taoist) business community would usually hold a three-day festival celebrations at their business areas where prayers and food offerings are made to the ghosts.

A grand ceremonial send-off of the paper effigy of Tai Su Yeah (King of Hades) is held on the last day and followed with a charity auction night dinner on the following day.

The items for auction has been placed at the altars during the three-day celebrations to receive blessings from the Taoist priests.