8 Hungry Ghost Festival Don’ts You Probably Haven’t Heard of From Your Parents

The Gates of Hell has opened once again for all its ghostly occupants to roam freely in our earthly realms.

With throngs of Pokemon trainers running around and gathering nightly to search for lures (oh, yes, people are still playing it), one thing’s for sure: the number of people out at night exceeds the number of spirits, and all are too occupied to care about the happenings around them much less our “invisible friends”.

Still, there is no harm reminding people about taboos halfway through the Hungry Ghost Month to avoid catching a lost soul.

1. Avoid standing your chopsticks upright in your bowl of rice; it resembles joss sticks offerings to the dead


Firstly, it’s rude. Secondly it is inauspicious because you are indirectly cursing your own death. It is an old superstition, but it particularly irks the older generation because it is an open invitation for the wandering spirits to mingle with the living and join them for a meal.

2. Do not cover your forehead, pin your hair up


The Chinese believe that everybody has two spiritual points but few people know that our third spiritual point is on our forehead.

It is believed that covering your forehead blocks the protective spiritual shield, making you vulnerable to the wandering souls. Another reason could be that you already look like one of them with your hair covering your face, so let’s not freak anybody out!

 3. Front row seats at the getai performances are not for you


This month is the time for the spirits to feast and possibly enjoy some entertainment as much as possible before heading back to the Underworld.

Hence, the front row seats at the getai performances are out of bounds to the living. Let’s not be that innocent maid from the 2005 The Maid film who got confronted by a very irate soul for occupying her deceased husband’s spot.

4. Do not touch, step or kick offerings, especially those from temporary altars by the roadside.


This is crucial for everyone, especially those who walk around playing Pokemon Go or maybe the typical “sotongs”.

Nobody likes his or her food being touched, much less getting it bulldozed over while eating it. Exercise some caution and awareness or somebody is going to get hurt real bad. If you accidentally knock over something, remember to say sorry.

5.Don’t sit or lean on the offering altar


There is a local legend that a mother once sat her child on the altar table during the Hungry Ghost Festival, she turned to check on her child and realized that he had already passed out, he eventually died moments later.

Apparently, the spirit ate his life essence thinking that the child was part of the offerings. Moral of the story: Keep off the altar table!

6. Avoid leaning on or walking near walls


It is said that ghosts find the walls cooling, especially in humid Singapore. Unless you want to chance upon an unwanted apparition, keep away from walls for the time being. Take your hipster-pose elsewhere that has no walls.

7.Refrain from talking to yourself


Talking to yourself at night is a green light for spirits to join in your conversation, especially the ones who look lonely while talking to themselves.

 8. Don’t stay out too late at night


It’s pretty hard to keep to this since Singapore’s supper life is basically 24 hours. The advice is just to walk fast or run home and don’t loiter unnecessarily, lastly mind your own business.

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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com on 21 August 2016 and revised on 27 August 2017.

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Amanda Yap

Amanda Yap

Nothing excites Amanda more than a good book and a teary Korean melodrama. She aims to gradually leave her footprints all around the world, one continent, one country, one city at a time.
Amanda Yap