Live music for the dead

Live music for the dead

SINGAPORE - Love live music? Forget concerts, festival gigs or cover bands in bars - from tomorrow until Sunday, you can catch a getai performance.

The boisterous outdoor song, dance and comedy routines are put on for spirits of the dead during the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Taoist Chinese believe that the souls of the deceased are freed during this month, allowing them to roam the earth.

The shows are put on to entertain them.

Across the HDB heartland, huge tents are set up in open fields for the night-time getai events. The word itself is Mandarin for "song stage".

In recent years, performers have increasingly put on more sensational performances to draw crowds in their hundreds. Revealing costumes, pulsating lights and even techno music add to the occasion which, at the same time, remains traditional.

People burn incense sticks for the dead to pay their respects and leave them food offerings, such as mandarin oranges, roasted pork, rice and a traditional Chinese cake.

Others burn joss paper money.

At every show, the front row of seats is left vacant for the unseen guests - the roaming spirits of the dearly departed

This article was first published on August 18, 2014.
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