Sun, Aug 19, 2012 - Page 3 News List

No money for ghosts: EPA

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Ahead of the traditional pudu (普渡) religious ceremonies set to take place over the next few weeks, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday urged people to replace the traditional custom of burning paper ghost money with doing good deeds and praying with a respectful heart.

In accordance with traditional religious customs, many people burn paper ghost money to honor the dead during the upcoming Chungyuan Festival (中元節), also known as the Ghost Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

However, the burning process worsens the quality of the air and affects the human body, the agency said, adding that long-term exposure to airborne pollutants may cause diseases of the respiratory system, cerebrovascular system and the central nervous system.

The EPA said it has received many petitions about the air pollution caused by burning paper money from the public each year, especially from metropolitan areas where the population density is high and air quality is already poor.

In a bid to reduce the large amount of paper money burnt during this time of the year, the EPA said local environmental protection bureaus have been promoting the concepts of doing good deeds and using rice, flowers or fruits as offerings to the gods and ancestors as replacements for burning the paper money.

In addition, the agency said that if people insist on burning paper “ghost money,” then they should contact their local environmental bureaus so that the money can be collectively burned in an incinerator. This would help maintain good air quality and protect public health, it said, adding that last year the local bureaus gathered 6,518 tonnes of ghost money across the country to be collectively burned in incinerators during pudu ceremonies, helping improve the air quality.

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