(Workers carry a five-metre-long paper offering called “Buddha Boat” to burn for the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival in Hong Kong August 25, 2013. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

At a workshop in an old Hong Kong neighborhood, paper craftsman Ha Chung-kin uses delicate sheets of paper and sticks of bamboo to fashion a huge, expensive boat that will soon be consigned to the flames.

The Hungry Ghosts festival that has prompted Ha’s exquisite labors centers on a superstition that the spirits of the dead return to Earth during the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar calendar, which runs from August 7 to September 4 this year.

Five meters (16 feet) long, Ha’s boat is one of numerous paper offerings ordered by Buddhist temples at this time of year, when many Chinese around the world tread more cautiously and make an extra effort to appease the roaming souls.

All kinds of items made of paper – including clothes, “gold” and “silver” ingots, mansions and boats – are burned to ensure the ghosts have enough to tide them over until the next year.