Fewer complaints about incense paper burning and waste during Hungry Ghost Month: Koh Poh Koon

SINGAPORE — Fewer complaints about the burning of incense paper have been received during the seventh Chinese month this year, a sign that recent efforts by religious groups have had some success, the state minister for sustainable development said. and environment, Koh Poh Koon.

Friday (August 26) marked the end of the seventh month, also known as Hungry Ghost Month, when Taoists and Buddhists offer food and burn incense paper to honor their ancestors.

Speaking at the installation ceremony of the 37th council of the Buddhist Federation of Singapore (SBF) on Saturday, Dr Koh also said he had seen a significant reduction in litter on walks around his constituency in Tampines as well as fewer complaints about waste from residents.

In his speech, he thanked the Standards Action Alliance (AfA) for Joss Paper Burning for educating the public on what not to do in the seventh month through posters and videos displayed in HDB blocks, supermarkets and shops selling prayer products.

The AfA, launched in July, comprises 10 organisations, including the SBF, the Taoist Federation, the Singapore Religious Goods Merchants Association and the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations.

The Venerable Shi You Guang, Secretary General of the SBF, said the general message of education is to promote social responsibility and harmony among Singaporeans.

“We don’t tell people they can’t burn their incense paper. We tell them to do it right and suggest other ways to show their gratitude to their ancestors, like donating to charitable causes” , did he declare.

Dr Koh added that religious counseling was essential both to help young people understand the cultural significance of these practices and to educate those performing the rituals to be more aware of the environmental impact.

He added, “Older generations may be more accustomed to the culture of incense burning and incense paper burning, especially in the seventh lunar month.

“But the younger generation sees some of these things as environmental pollution that doesn’t match what they see as an urgent need (to protect) the earth and to be carbon neutral.”

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