Another few minutes is the finale of the Hungry Ghost Month.
This morning at breakfast, my husband Goh told me his English boss was curious about the 7th Month celebration at their office premises, why the burning of joss papers, putting toys under the table, the food, etc.. Goh told him this is to prevent the child ghost from playing with the things in their shop floor.
Westerners may find it hard to believe in this seemingly absurd explanation why we pay respects, make offerings to the homeless spirits on the seventh lunar month. It is believed that the “Gates of Hell” are opened and the dead ones pay visit to seek food and entertainment on the first day of seventh lunar month. Food offerings, burning incense and chanting are made to the spirits of the dead and to the hungry ghosts.
These ghosts are believed to be ancestors of those who have forgotten to pay tribute to them after they had died, or those who have suffered deaths and were never given a proper ritual for a send-off. The afterlife is very similar in some aspects to the material world, and the paper effigies of material goods would provide comfort to in the afterlife.
Stage performance – modern singing performance or traditional opera and puppet shows are put up to appease and entertain the souls. Everyone is invited. Front seats are reserved for the “special guests” so the living please do not sit on them.
There are some taboos observed by Chinese specially during the seventh lunar month, some practices to observe daily.
1) One should not pee on a tree because it may offend the spirits that resides there.
2) It is bad to kick or disturb offering to the hungry ghost such as joss sticks, candles and food offerings.
3) It is inauspicious to get married during the hungry ghost month.
4) Refrain from moving or begin renovation to avoid the possibility of the wandering spirits dwelling with you.
5) It is inauspicious to begin business during the hungry ghost month
6) It would be best to avoid swimming during this month. Stay away from deep sea, river to avoid being taken as a substitute.
7) Avoid talking about ghosts as it may offend wandering spirits.
8) Avoid taking out wet clothing for drying in the night.
9) Avoid buying car as it is believed to be more prone to accident.
10) Avoid going near the forest especially where there are banana trees and banyan trees. The “yin” energy at such places is very intense and is preferably avoided.
11) Reduce the number of outings to avoid the wandering spirits getting close or following you.
12) When on the street at night, do not response randomly to the voice calling out your name.
1) To intensify the positive energy in you, bathe with water soaked with pomelo leaves to allow the unique aroma of the leaves to drive the evil forces away.
2) Always carry an incantation for warding away the evil spirits that has been blessed by high-ranking monk or Taoist master.
3) Singing and whistling in the open is said to attract spirits.
4) Good to leave the forehead exposed as it is believed that the light from the forehead can ward off evil spirits.
We never have any encounter with a spirit in our lifetime. Observing the dos and don’ts will be helpful to ensure an incident-free life. Call me superstitious. Being a Chinese, they are a way of life.