"Hungry Ghost" Festival Chinese Pop Concert


Not everything is strictly traditional about how the Chinese in Penang, Malaysia celebrate the Spirits of the 7th Month “Hungry Ghost” Festival.  Chinese opera—in either Hokkien & Teowchew styles predominate, & there’s the rare traditional Chinese puppet show to entertain the sudden population explosion of spirits walking around.  But the modern world has invaded tradition as well, and most locales celebrating the festival also include some modern-styled Chinese entertainment.

In my community one version of this modern Chinese concert spotlighted a very young girl pop performer.

Once again young & old people gravitated to the stage near the beach to see what wonders would be on the menu this night.

When the tiny wonder steps onto the stage & begins to perform, the crowd goes wild.  They’re so enthusiastic that they forget that the first row or two of stools is supposed to be left empty for the honored spirits to occupy--& nearly all the seats fill up!

This child prodigy performer--dressed a jester’s outfit with black stick-on hat--belts out Chinese favorites. 

Her name is Yo-Yo.  She has a surprising repertoire . . .

and carries herself with astonishing poise on-stage for a seven year-old . . . 

until the music comes to a repeated crescendo & she repeatedly goes into a rigid, unnatural pose—obviously coached into her but appearing—sadly—inauthentic.

She’s quite skilled & impressive as a young singer.  One wonders though about what it will do to her life having her in this role while so young.  I suppose there’s good reason for the child labor laws that have restricted this kind of thing in many places.

In the meantime, young—up close in the front-row seats—and old alike—from their hammocks in the background—enjoy the modern Chinese pop concert & look forward to what novelties will be served up at the next year’s performance.