10 Hungry Ghost Festival Taboos Because Hungry Ghost Month is Here Liao

The Hungry Ghost Festival is here liao.

Tuesday, 22 August marks the first day of the Ghost Month, and you can expect to see many Buddhists and Taoists praying and burning paper money and other accessories to both their ancestors and wandering spirits.

The Hungry Ghost Festival is the time of the year when the gates of Hell are thrown wide open and all the spirits in Hell are allowed to exit and visit their loved ones.

While it sounds like fun for them, it is not all rosy for the rest of us, especially when some of those said spirits are supposed to be evil spirits that can do us harm.

To avoid undesirable attention from these spirits, here are 10 things you die-die-cannot-do during this period, or you’ll regret for life.

1. Do not be rude by kicking the roadside offerings left by others

Image: todayonline.com

This is the number one taboo during the Ghost Month. It is a month of filial piety and compassion where Buddhists and Taoists pray by the roadside and crossroads and leave offerings (fruits and sometimes, rice) for the wandering hungry spirits.

It is extremely rude to kick these offerings and it may offend the spirits which are nearby. Look where you are walking and do not ever kick these offerings or the spirits may punish you.

But you can still complain on social media about the mess lah. They might not know. But then again, people burn iPhones nowadays.

2. Do not step on paper money or any forms of paper offering

Image: todayonline.com

Similar to the offering of food, paper money or other forms of paper offering is given to the dead as a sign of filial piety and compassion.

It is common to see people burning offerings at the roadside or crossroads near their house.

You must avoid stepping on these paper money and offerings as the spirits may take offence to that. If there are remaining ashes from a fire of burnt offerings, try not to step on them too, yeah?

But if you do step on them, just apologise under your breath and rush off.

3. Do not stay out too late into the night

Image: spi.com.sg

Some of us like to party till the middle of the night before going home.

During this month, do not do that.

If you want to party, make sure you stay at the club till it closes in the morning! It is said that spirits are at their peak between 2 am to 4 am. During this period, they are in their best elements and can trigger possession if you are down in the luck.

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Therefore, it is not advisable to be out and about on the streets in the middle of the night.

4. Do not wear RED or BLACK during the Ghost Month

Image: ntuc.org.sg

Red and black are common colours that are worn by us every day.

However, during the Ghost Month, it is prudent for us to avoid these colours if we are going to be out later than 11 pm.

It is said that you can attract a hungry spirit if you wear these colours and walk about in the street at night.

5. Do not turn your head when you hear people calling or patting you from behind

It is our instincts to turn our heads when we hear someone calling from behind. It is fine to do so any time of the year, but do not do that during the Ghost Month.

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The Chinese believe that we have 3 lights on our upper body – 2 on each of the shoulders and 1 on the forehead. These lights protect us from the spirits and guide our way safely back home each day.

When someone calls you from behind and you turn your head, you extinguish the light on the shoulder.


When the light goes out, it leaves you vulnerable to attacks from the spirits. This is also the reason why you should not cover your forehead during this month.

6. Do not visit “dirty” places

There are some places which are considered “dirty”. That means that spirits like to congregate at these areas. It can be a deserted place, a cemetery (obviously!), a tree or a bus stop after the last bus is gone. Do not go to such places at night as it can bring you bad luck.

So you’ve heard about Today’s Instagram-worthy pictures at Lim Chu Kang cemetery? Don’t try and take some photos there yourself. #ConsideredYourselfWarned

7. Do not lean against the wall

For those who love to lean against the wall while waiting for someone, do not do that during the Ghost Month. It is said that ghosts like to stick on walls as it is “cooler”, so leaning on the wall may inevitably lead to leaning on them!

8. Do not paint your nails black

Image: twentysixnails.com

Nail art is the rad among ladies and it’s fashionable to paint your nails black, especially when you add on some really beautiful nail art.


During the Ghost Month, choose a bright colour instead. It is believed that if you have black nails, spirits will assume you are one of them. That can bring you a lot of bad luck or even death (if they lead you back to Hell).

Ladies go to the toilet together, right? So they might want to go back together as well.

9. Do not open an umbrella at home

You’ve seen the old Chinese movies showing how spirits can stay in umbrellas.

If you’ve used an umbrella in the rain, hang it up in the bathroom to drip dry WITHOUT opening it up.

It may take a longer time, and your umbrella may smell, but it is far better to deal with that than to deal with a wandering spirit hiding under your umbrella as a “shelter”.


10. Do not hang your clothes out at night

Image: straitstimes.com

We need to wash and air our clothes, but avoid washing your clothes at night and hanging them OUT of your window to air.

Wandering spirits may take a liking to your clothes and wear them. You will end up drawing the spirit into your house when you keep the clothes.

As a rule of thumb, wash your clothes in the day, and air them outside the house during daytime. Keep them before the sun goes down. For those who stay in HDB that only allows indoor drying, this is not a problem.

You can still hang and air your clothes in the house, but let’s try not to wash clothes at night.

Now that you know the things you shouldn’t do liao, better take note, okay? It’s better to be safe than sorry.


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Zerlina is a dreamer who wants to become a full pledged author someday. She spends many evenings reading novels and trying to write her own. She has 2 turtles and many fishes to give her inspiration for writing.