Its Chap Gor Mar here in Singapore- the Hungry Ghost Festival - a traditional Chinese celebration. Its the month where all the ghosts get out of hell and visit their descendants and get something to eat. The ones who don't have descendants just wander around. Basically its like Halloween- except no child in their right mind goes trick or treating here - and no sane living person eats the food offered to the dead.
Symbols of material wealth are also sacrificed to the ghosts- it includes fake money like photocopied US dollars - which considering how the American economy is performing - is practically the same as the real deal. The people heap them all up in a pile and set it alight - together with joss sticks. It creates a lot of ash and smoke. In short, pollution.
That's what some idiot did outside the open aired restaurant I was eating at yesterday. There I was having a nice evening meal when the restaurant become smoky with the smell of burnt hell money. In fact, people are doing it everywhere- including my neighbors who are throwing tons of paper into a small metal bin outside... oh wait, that's the Thaksin family... burning documents.
Far be it from me to make remarks about someone else's religion. If you want to point fingers, well, in Christianity we have a cookie and fruit juice and believe that we are (symbolically if we are Protestant; literally if we are Catholic) consuming the blood and body of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.
But - going back to this burning paper issue- couldn't the piles of fake paper money be substituted for just one cheque? I mean, couldn't they go to the temple - buy a traveller's cheque for hell with a marked value of $1 zillion in hell currrency- and burn that instead of the copious amounts of paper bills? That'd really solve the air pollution problem. See!!Win Win. Everyone happy! Temple gets money. Devotees save time. The environment is saved. And I get to get my mongolian beef rice in peace.