The Hungry Ghost Festival is here—avoid doing these if you don’t want any unplanned visitors
Any festival that’s literally called Hungry Ghost Festival should be reason enough to steer clear of any trouble. But just to raise the spook factor even higher, did you know that the Buddhist traditional belief is that on the seventh month of the lunar calendar, the gates of hell would open and hungry spirits and ghouls are able to wander the Earth? To appease the departed souls of the netherworld, many Buddhists would make offerings and perform ancestral worship as a sign of filial piety.
In saying that, we’re sure many of us would like to have a ghost-free celebration. Even if you are not a believer, it doesn’t hurt to err on the side of caution to avoid any ghostly encounters—and we’re not talking about the Casper kind. Below, here are six superstitions you can follow to give yourself a good chance of evading these starving spirits.
Don’t stay out late
This first one is fairly obvious, but to some of you party animals who belong in the 3am club, take heed. It’s believed that the yin energy is the strongest at night, so not only are ghosts naturally drawn to the night time, their spiritual powers are also allegedly stronger during this period. For this month, why not take the opportunity to wind down indoors with a scary movie instead—at least they can’t get to you when you’re inside (or can they…?).
Don’t take pictures at night
We know a good selfie or group picture with your posse when you’re out can be so tempting but unless you want to be the next main character of Shutter, avoid taking any pictures at night during this month. Not only will you *possibly* run the risk of seeing something horrifying in the background, but cameras are also said to be able to capture spirits that can be brought home with you.
Avoid cutting your hair or shaving
Yes, this might sound excessive but the ancient Chinese belief is that hair acts as a ‘barrier’ of sorts against supernatural beings. There’s even a saying that a strand of leg hair can scare away three ghosts. So let those babies grow—the more the merrier!
Be careful where you walk
During the Hungry Ghost Festival, temporary altars and food offerings on the side of the roads or pedestrian walkways will be common sights. Try your best to avoid stepping on, jumping over or knocking any of these (this includes any burn marks left from burning joss paper), as doing so may anger the spirits or ghosts that they were meant for. If you accidentally do so, you are advised to offer an apology to avoid unwanted visitors following you home.
Avoid entering any bodies of water
If you think you just have to avoid the streets, think again! Buddhist people also believe that there are vengeful spirits that lurk in the waters, waiting for an unsuspecting victim for a chance of reincarnation or a companion. Save the swimming for the mornings instead (and remember to wear SPF!).
Don’t stand too close to or lean on walls
If you see a cool wall, we know it’s almost instinctive to want to snap a shot with it for the ‘gram. However, you might want to find another more ghost-free background as the Buddhists believe that ghosts tend to ‘stick’ to them, thanks to their cool surface. If you stand too close to one, the spirits might ‘stick’ on to you instead and there is just no wall that’s worth that.
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