There's a fishing village on Penang's border.  Here you find a long-kept & unique tradition. The fishing village is called Kuala Muda. They run a fish market, &  hold an auction to sell their catch. But what’s really unique is that for some wildly bizarre reason they hold a whispering auction.

During the Chinese Spirits of the 7th Month (known by the misnomer “the Hungry Ghost) Festival, many Chinese communities in Malaysia & Singapore hold traditional Chinese opera using human actors, but only a few places still put on Chinese puppet shows. 


Aidul Adha or Hari Raya Haji (Pilgrim’s Holy Day) or Hari Raya Korban (Holy Day of the Sacrifice) is Islam’s holy day when Muslims annually remember the prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of his son to Allah, interrupted by Allah as Allah provided a substitute animal to die in the place of Abraham’s descendants.

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.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part for many Malaysian Chinese during the Spirits of the 7th Month (aka "Hungry Ghost") Festival is the big communal meal that every active site holds. 

An active site means—among other things—a place where there’s a temple or shrine of some sort (they’re nearly everywhere in Penang), a medium to lead sacerdotal duties, a stage & a Chinese opera troupe. 

Apart from Taiwan, there may be no other place in the world today where so many Chinese continue to preserve their ancient religious traditions. Mao Zedong seemingly obliterated most traditional Chinese religionist practices in Mainland China.

Among the Chinese of Malaysia—particularly in the Chinese populations of Penang—these traditions don’t merely survive; they thrive.

Everyone living near any traditional Chinese community knows that this is now the 7th Chinese month—that remarkable time of year known to many as the Hungry Ghost Festival. My closest local Chinese friend—a traditional religionist—insists that we stop calling it the Hungry Ghost Festival & more properly call it the “Festival of the Spirits of the 7th Month.”

I want to respect his wishes, but sounds like a mouthful! And in the meantime, everyone else seems to call it the Hungry Ghost Festival.

Every year in the “Spring” Chinese traditional religionists flock to graveyards to honor their ancestors. 

Penang, Malaysia is famous not only for being the food capital of Asia & the UNESCO World Heritage-preserved-site of one of the world’s last 19th century Chinese port towns.  Penang is also getting talked about for the growing number of mass public sports events held here—round-island cycle rides, an annual marathon & the Penang Triathlon.

This year’s Triathlon started in the north coast fishing town of Teluk Bahang.

In the northwest corner of Penang island, Malaysia is a fishing hamlet called Teluk Bahang—roughly translated “Heatwave Bay.”  Because this small town is majority Malay Muslim, it comes as a surprise that here is located a Hindu temple that’s fairly important to local devotees—Kuil Sri Singamuga Kaliamman. 

It’s not important because it was featured on “The Amazing Race” (Season 16, Episode 8), but because it’s the venue for an occasional annual Hindu events.