HDB estate cleaners lauded as unsung heroes for cleaning up joss paper every Hungry Ghost Festival

Overnight effort on top of regular estate duties.

Lean Jinghui | September 08, 2021, 04:34 AM

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The month-long annual Hungry Ghost Festival has come to an end on Monday, Sep. 6, 2021.

The festival's adherents took to burning joss paper en masse on the streets as part of the widespread practice to usher the departed back to where they came from on the last day of the festival.

However, as always, the aftermath of the rituals carried out in public are eventually seen to by estate cleaners tasked to clean up the offerings, usually before residents wake up at dawn.

Post-festival debris

Photos of joss paper scattered next to incense burners and offerings strewn throughout HDB estates post-festival, were put up in the Let's go, Singapore Facebook group to show the extent of the eventual clean-up efforts required.

Via 走,新加坡 Let's go, Singapore Facebook

Via 走,新加坡 Let's go, Singapore Facebook

Via 走,新加坡 Let's go, Singapore Facebook

Some of the offerings left behind, which require more effort to dispose of properly, include food and drinks, such as packets of rice and vegetables.

These items, as well as joss sticks seen jutting out of the ground, eventually get left exposed and unattended, and occasionally covered or drenched in rainwater.

Via 走,新加坡 Let's go, Singapore Facebook

Estate cleaners are unsung heroes

Many adherents and non-practising casual onlookers of the Hungry Ghost Festival would surely have noticed over the years how offerings miraculously disappear from public view within 24 hours.

It turns out that there are estate cleaners working quietly and efficiently behind the scenes to ensure that the estate's cleanliness is restored.

As a timely reminder of the efforts of the unsung heroes in our midst, photos of the estate cleaners in action post-festival were shared to the Reddit thread r/Singapore.

Estate workers were witnessed cleaning up the offerings, which led some commenters to quip that Singapore is "cleaned and green" as oppose to "clean and green".

Via r/singapore Reddit

Via r/singapore Reddit

Lively discussions about how such practices can be carried out annually without residents stepping up to clean up after themselves was also debated.

Via r/singapore Reddit

Via r/singapore Reddit

Annual spotlight on post-Hungry Ghost Festival clean-up

The focus on post-Hungry Ghost Festival clean-up has almost become an annual affair.

In 2020, a similar post was uploaded to the Complaint Singapore Facebook group, with the post calling out the annual practice for being "inconsiderate and ungracious".

But the post still came from a place of civic-mindedness, as it appealed to residents to think of the estate cleaners, who are foreign workers, and who already have to work hard to maintain the cleanliness of the estate, without the additional workload.

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Top images via r/Singapore