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Hungry Ghost Festival in San Francisco's Chinatown celebrates ancestors and community

Hundreds of people headed to San Francisco’s Chinatown on Saturday for the city’s inaugural Hungry Ghost Festival, presented by the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco.  

“It’s a cultural tradition that celebrates and honors our ancestors,” said Jenny Leung, Executive Director at the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco.

Leung explained that on the seventh month of the lunar calendar, boundaries with the spirit world are said to be blurred.

“And on the fifteenth day, Hungry Ghost Festival is when the gates of hell are opened and ghosts are roaming the earth,” she added.

This festival included and highlighted many other cultural traditions and the ways they celebrate similarly. Onlookers packed into Portsmouth Square to watch dance performances, visit decorated altars, and make crafts.

“We understand honoring ancestors is not just for Chinatown or the Chinese community, so we really wanted to invite everyone from the San Francisco neighborhoods to come and experience these San Francisco traditions,” Leung said. 

Especially in light of the rise of anti-AAPI hate and violence since the pandemic, the Chinese Culture Center felt it was important to have this event to bring people together for a day of unity and celebration.

Organizers hope events like this continue to draw people of all ages to Chinatown to eat, shop and play. The Chinese Culture Center says it expects to hold more community art and events in Chinatown soon.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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