The gates of hell have opened and spirits roam amongst us. No, we’re not talking about the plot for a horror movie. Every year, on the seventh month of the lunar calendar, the Hungry Ghost Festival will be taking place. According to Chinese traditions, the seventh month, or Ghost Month (鬼月 in Mandarin), is when ghosts and spirits trapped between the human and spiritual realm roam the face of the Earth. These spirits are ‘hungry’ from the deprivation of food and water since they cannot eat or drink. While it might sound like a scary horror plot just waiting to happen, here are 10 Hungry Ghost superstitions to help you stay out of trouble with the spirits.
1. Front Row Seats
Now before you go snagging up those coveted front-row seats at the getai performance in your neighbourhood, know that these seats are left empty for a reason. They are deliberately left empty for the wandering spirits that roam the Earth. Just because you can’t see them does not mean the seats aren’t occupied.
2. Watch Your Steps
If your mum is anything like ours, they would have warned you to watch your step during this month. With people burning incense and offerings, it’ll do you good to avoid stepping on the ashes or stray paper that flew off. You don’t want to risk stepping on them and angering a nearby spirit.
3. Close That Umbrella
We usually open our umbrellas to let them dry after we’ve used it. But during this month, remember to close them before nightfall. Keeping your umbrella opened at the side of your room may invite homeless spirits to take shelter under your umbrella.
4. Spare The Insects
Resist the urge to kill those insects that managed to find their way into your home. While you might want to exterminate these creepy-crawlies to ensure that they don’t find their way back, it is believed that insects like grasshoppers and moths might actually be reincarnations of your ancestors coming back.
5. Avoid The Waters
Swimming is discouraged during this period as people believe that vengeful spirits will try to drown you in a bid fit of jealousy and anger since many of them might have drowned in their previous life. Try to minimise any water activities during this period!
6. Hold That Tune
Sure, it might be a crime to not whistle to that catchy Justin Bieber tune you just heard on the radio. But keep that songbird in you in check – whistling (especially at night) is believed to attract the attention of these spirits. We’re sure that’s not the kind of attention you want to attract.
7. Chopsticks On Rice
This might be a common Chinese belief, but it holds, even more, pertinence in this period of time. Sticking your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl is a huge no-no. Akin to offering for those that have passed, doing this like an open invitation to the wandering ghosts to visit.
8. Keep The Clothes
Remember to keep the clothes that you’ve left hanging outside. It is said that the spirits will try on these clothes that they see left fluttering outside, and when you keep them in the next day you might be inevitably ‘keeping’ these spirits as well.
9. Say “I Don’t”
Avoid holding your wedding celebrations and festivities during this month. While the Hungry Ghost Festival might cast an inauspicious light on the ceremony, holding it during this month might also invite a certain unwanted guest to your ceremony as well. Best to keep your joyous occasion to another month instead.
10. Go Home Early
The night time is where a peak of supernatural activities happen. To avoid coming into contact with a spirit, head home early when these spirits are still deep in slumber.
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