Mon, Sep 11, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Fruit names do not invite ghosts, food official says

HOKLO HOMONYMS:The food agency official said that fruit sellers have suffered serious losses due to the belief, although he did not offer an amount

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The belief that offering bananas, plums, pears and pineapples for the dead would invite more ghosts is a superstition that should be abandoned, an Agriculture and Food Agency official said yesterday.

The nation’s biggest fruit market in New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重) yesterday held a ritual to honor the dead following the Ghost Festival on Tuesday, the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

The seventh month of the lunar calendar is called Ghost Month, when the gate of the underworld is said to open and people prepare offerings for the dead.

People have refrained from offering bananas, plums, pears and pineapples, because the fruits’ names sound like they are inviting ghosts in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), the market’s Fu-te Temple (福德宮) chairman Lin Lai-fa (林來發) said.

In Hoklo pronunciation, banana sounds like “inviting” (tsio), plum like “you” (li), pear like “come” (lai) and pineapple like “prosperity” or “more” (ong), the combination of which sounds like an invitation for ghosts to stay in someone’s home.

Some so-called folklore experts kept spreading the belief, but it is actually a superstition that has cost fruit sellers serious losses, Lin said.

The superstition is capricious given that the names sound different in Hakka or Aboriginal languages, the agency’s deputy director Chuang Lao-ta (莊老達) said.

The agency did not estimate the amount fruit sellers have lost, he added.

Banana have been one of the nation’s best-selling fruits since the Japanese colonial period, but sales slow down in summer as they contain less water, he said, adding that Council of Agriculture officials are slated to visit Japan next month to promote Taiwanese fruits such as bananas, lychees and dragon fruit.

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