To our Chinese friends, colleagues and readers, the gates of hell opens this wednesday, 3rd August. Also known as Seventh Month Festival (Hungry Ghost Festival). There are many reasons that superstitions or things to avoid that everybody practices. Being a culturally diverse country, it is also our responsibility to understand our fellow community.
During this month, the Chinese believed that apart from the full moon month, a day of rejoice for Buddhist monks and a new season. It is also the time where the ghosts/spirits come out to feast and look for entertainment. While we are used to having our time on earth, what do our fellow believers do during this period to “accommodate” and live peacefully and harmoniously?
1. DO NOT step on offerings or kick the prayer’s joss sticks on the ground. If done accidentally, you are supposed to say sorry and excuse me for it (But, is it too late now to say sorry?) These are food offerings that they provide for their late family members to feast upon. In fact, how would you feel if I kick your food off the table while you are eating? rude right? I know!
2. DO NOT go out too late in the night. Since ghosts/spirits are known to roam around at night, try to avoid walking in dark places alone by yourself. (Maybe, you are not alone…)
3. DO Not turn around over shoulder. Linked to the previous point, when you feel someone tapping on your shoulder or calling your name suddenly, they advise not to turn just your head. Chinese belief is that we have unseen trinity fire on your shoulders and forehead which ghosts are afraid of when faced all 3 together. If you turn only one side, then the “fire weaken” then they can play with you (oh boy, you do not want that!)
4. DO NOT joke about ghost/spirits at night. Avoid playing silly ghost games like Oujia board or spirit pen even. Haven’t you heard? talk about it some more and you will just attract them to join your party!
5. Do not open an umbrella when in underground walkway, or open an umbrella at home which you have opened outside. Scared you bring a ghost home from outside and release them at home…Aiyehhhh
6. DO NOT take pictures during night time outdoors. Now, we do not need any supernatural beings inside your pictures. So keep your selfies for daytime or just next time lah!
7. DO NOT leave open wounds unattended. It is mentioned that open wound, will give a strong smell of blood to ghosts/spirits wandering around. So you will attract them to follow you….home!
8. Avoid feeling emotional or crying at night. When one is weakened emotionally, the yin energy (negative, dark, feminine energy) increased thus will draw the spirits to come to you at your lowest point and will find it easy to take over the …..body. Sounds creepy enough!
9. Do not whistle after dusk. Somewhat similar to what Malays do believe in. After dusk, when one whistles, old grandma tales state that it is an invitation to spirits to come into your house. SO just stop whistling can anot!?
10. Avoid swimming in the sea/pool at night. If you have seen enough chinese ghost stories, you know that they have the dracula, water ghosts, banana ghost, old woman ghost, etc. During this period of free roaming, you do not want to swim at night as a precaution in case the water ghost pull you under water and drown you!
11. Avoid the first few rows at Getai performances. Meant for special VIPs only (if you know what I mean).
12. DO NOT hang wet clothes on bamboo poles outside your house at night. I have heard stories about hanging clothes outside but now during seventh month, I heard it is even more “suay”, spirits are believed to wear your clothes while it is hanged outside…WAH LAO!
13. DO NOT wear red and/or stand under a tree in the middle of the night. Self-explainatory or nah?
For the rest of us, non-believers this list serve as a guide for us to understand why our friends may behave a certain way this month, like going home early or having prayers session every other evening. It is just right for us to give our due respect to each and every individual.
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