Segaki 2017

Traditional Buddhist cosmology features a class of beings known as hungry ghosts or “gaki.” Beset by insatiable hunger and thirst, gaki are unable to receive nourishment because their throats are extremely thin, and whenever food or drink enters their mouths, it turns to pus, blood, or fire. Ananda, the Buddha’s attendant, was visited by such a being one day, who informed him that in spite of his spiritual attainments, within three days he would surely die and be reborn as a hungry ghost—unless, that is, he made extensive offerings to the gaki of the ten directions. The Buddha then instructed Ananda about the manner of making offerings, and this ritual was reenacted in China and then Japan, where it is called Segaki, “feeding hungry ghosts,” or Sejiki, “offering food.” 

All photos in this post © 2017 Evan Kaufman.