August 24, 2021

Epstein is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. As such, creating a welcoming workplace environment is a year-round initiative. We are taking note of the following events celebrating important diversity leaders, as well as cultural and religious events throughout the month of August.

Like many cultures all over the world, the Chinese have specialized customs regarding the dead and ghosts that are thousands of years old. Although the festivities primarily focus on honoring dead spirits and ancestors, it is also believed that the seventh month of the lunar calendar, famously known as “Ghost Month,” is a time when the gate of afterlife opens to allow spirits to roam the earth.

The Hungry Ghost Festival, celebrated this year on August 22, originates from an old story of a monk named Mulian, who, by obeying Buddha’s orders and offering food and robes to monks, granted his mother a new life on earth and ended her hunger. The celebrations typically include elaborate meals that are served to empty seats around a table and communities’ performances emphasize the act of celebrating for the dead and ghosts.

Originally from a Japanese and Buddhist origin, Obon is a similar event to China’s Hungry Ghost Festival that also celebrates spirits and ancestors. It is believed that each year during Obon, this year observed on August 13, the ancestors walk the earth to visit relatives. This act is facilitated by lanterns hung in front of houses to guide spirits during their time on earth. Obon festival is celebrated with dancing (Bon Odori), the visitation of graves, and food offerings made at altars and temples in memory of spirits and ancestors who once lived the earth.

Just as it is important to celebrate the spirits and ancestors of the past, it is equally vital to recognize the present and future, and to acknowledge the efforts of our youth and the various roles they play in our society today.

International Youth Day is observed each year on the 12th of August, and celebrates the qualities of young people as well as acknowledging the challenges they can face today. This day also gives an opportunity to celebrate young people’s actions, initiatives and their international significance. Originally established by the UN in 1999 for the efforts young people make in education, community development, and volunteering, the first observance of International Youth Day was in the year 2000.