The Hungry Ghost Festival is here again and it’s also the time when a lot of misunderstandings and complains about traditional customs and heritage will surface on social media. We can always do with a lot more tolerance, give-and-take and respect for one another’s religious practices and beliefs.
Enter Mr Woo – Singapore’s first Hungry Ghost Festival chatbot, an initiative by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth in Singapore.
This is a pretty cool and fun way to communicate cultural and heritage messaging to Singaporeans online and hopefully, it will help pave the way for neighbourly behaviour for both believers and non-believers of the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Mr Woo’s full name is described as Mr WoOoO and he is said to be in town on his “yearly trip in search of good food, exciting concerts and intriguing ceremonies”. He’s also very willing to help fellow Singaporeans understand the traditions behind the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Known conventionally as Singapore’s first chatbot for the Festival, Mr Woo is friendly, learned and loves char kway teow. He is also brimming with information on the Festival’s origins and practices, having built up his store of knowledge by consulting religious leaders from Buddhist and Taoist faiths.
To engage his followers, Mr Woo uses GIFs, emojis and memes to express his thoughts, and prompts users to participate in a Daily Quiz to test their knowledge about the festival. He also provides location-based directions to the nearest Buddhist or Taoist temple, and even getai performances!
Mr Woo is available from now on Facebook Messenger until 9 September 2018. You are welcome to go chat with him! Perfect for all the lonely souls at night.
Images provided by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.