Hi every buttie,

In case you didn't know, the "Gates of Hell" are opening at 11pm today (Aug 13) for this year's Seventh Month Festival, otherwise known as the Hungry Ghost Festival. For those of you who don't know, the Hungry Ghost Festival is period which Chinese Singaporeans believe the ghosts of Chinese ancestors are let out of hell for one month.

In the Chinese lunar calendar, this takes place on the first day of the Seventh Month. When the ghosts of the ancestors roam around the streets, they are thought to be on the lookout for food and paper money offerings which their descendants leave outside their homes for them, hence the reason why the festival is called "Hungry Ghost Festival".

Some of you might ask, since there are so many ghosts walking around during this month, are there things that people should or should not do to avoid offending these supernatural beings?

I've decided to compile a list of sayings from my grandparents, parents and relatives for you so you can follow along. If you're lucky, you may even receive blessings for being considerate towards the spirits.

Number 1: Do not step or kick the offerings on the ground.

This is very rude to the spirits as some of them may be feasting on the food as you walk past. How would you like it if someone stepped on or stomped at your food while you are eating?

Number 2: Don't turn back when someone calls your name or taps your shoulder while you are walking alone at night.

This is a common advice. Legend has it that any ghost who calls out you at night while you are walking alone is hostile and wants to possess or harm you. Spooky stories of how some people went missing or became stricken with illness after encountering such spirits abound.

Number 3: Avoid going out late at night.

You should not go out late at night because the ghosts may latch on to you, follow you home or try to harm you in some way while you are out. The reason I've been told is that ghosts are at their strongest in the night because the "yin" energy from the moon strengthens them, whereas the "yang" energy from the Sun weakens them. Sorry for those of you who work the night shift. Maybe you could carry around a UV lamp?

Number 4: Avoid swimming, especially at night.

Again, another piece of advice that has plenty of ghost stories to back it up. It is commonly said that some swimmers who encountered "water ghosts" felt their legs being "pulled" at while they were swimming and they only managed to break free by luck or because they screamed for help or someone came to get them. Better safe than sorry.

Number 5: Don't get married during the Seventh Month Festival.

This is actually quite a controversial piece of advice, and I know some people who disregard it. But I do think it's quite sensible to avoid this month altogether, especially if you believe in the supernatural. Wouldn't it be quite eerie if you held your wedding and "extra guests" who don't know turned up? I wouldn't take the risk.

Number 6: Do not cover your forehead, pin up your hair and expose your forehead as much as possible. 

This comes from the Chinese belief that the forehead has powerful yang energy emanating out from it and any ghost who wishes to cross you would be overpowered by your life energy.

Number 7: Do not make jokes about ghosts, offerings or altars along the street.

This taboo is usually an unspoken rule among my family. During the Seventh Month, my family would avoid watching horror shows and we'd stop talking about inauspicious things like deaths, even if it's for laughs. The reason being that you wouldn't want the ghosts walking around to hear you making fun of them.

Number 8: Do not take photographs in the evening.

For those of you who have watched the horror movie Shutter or seen photographs with supernatural beings, you know why. Ghosts are known to photobomb too.

Number 9: Do not open your umbrella at night, especially the red ones.

Red attracts spirits, and opening umbrellas serves as an invitation for ghosts to make themselves known to you.

Number 10: If you sense something or feel a sudden coldness, do not shift you eyes, just look straight and go to your destination.

According to my grandmother, if you treat the supernatural as if it is part of normal life and just go on with your business, the ghosts will have no power over you and they will be less likely to find trouble for you.

Bonus Number 11: If you see the men in white outside your door, do not open the door for them.

Self-explanatory. Other colours are fine though.


Jimmy Chew

A.S.S. Contributor

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