Just as the Americans have Halloween, the Chinese have the Hungry Ghost Festival (also know as Zhong Yuan Jie in Chinese). This is the month where the gates of hell are believed to be opened. This frees hungry ghosts who wander to seek food on Each. According to custom, these ghosts can be up to mischief if ignored.
With the Ghost Festival starting this week till the end of August, here’s a list of uncommon and weird superstitions. Do you believe in them?
1. Touching, Stepping Or Kicking Prayer Items And Offerings
During the hungry ghost festival, the sidewalks and pavements transform into a minefield strewn with joss paper, charred offerings, and food. Do watch your step and don’t touch, step or kick these prayer items and offerings. These are offered to the hungry ghosts. You should also refrain from making jokes or complaining about the prayer offerings.
Avoid swimming during this ghost festival month. It is believed that vengeful spirits whose death was due to drowning are determined to take the living with them.
3. Staying Out Late At Night
Children and pregnant women are advised to return home early. They should not wander around at night, especially if they’re alone. It is a belief that children are much more susceptible to being possessed by wandering ghosts. Spirits are also exceptionally attracted to foetuses in the wombs of the pregnant women. Pregnant women are advised not to go out at all.
4. Picking Up Strange Items You Stumble Upon On The Streets, Especially Coins
Seen some money on the ground or found some unique items on the roadside? These items are apparently for the hungry ones to take, not you! It may very well belong to a ghost!
5. Wearing Black Or Red Clothings And High Heels
Ghosts are apparently attracted to red and black, so avoid becoming a target board. Ladies are also warned against wearing high heels too. It is a belief that a woman is opening herself to spirit possession if her heels are constantly elevated above the ground.
6. Look Under The Altar, Especially During Prayer Sessions
Never look under the altar especially during prayer sessions. It is believed that the unseen may be having their feast underneath the altar and they do not like to be disturbed.
7. Whistling At Night
It is believed that roaming spirits are attracted to whistling, especially after the sun sets. Whistling attracts the attention of ghosts. These ghosts may decide to follow and stick to you for a long time, giving you long term bad luck. You may even hear someone singing along with you!
8. New Things
New houses, new businesses, new relationships? Theses are all to be avoided as the hungry ghost month is considered to be highly inauspicious.
9. Hang Your Clothes Outside To Dry
A wandering ghost may “try on” your clothes at night. Thus, it is best to avoid hanging them out late at night. These ghosts may even enter your house after trying on your clothes!
10. Sitting On The First Row Of Seats At Opera Street Performances And Getais
If you see empty seats at opera street performances and getais, don’t sit on them. It is said that the front row seats are reserved for “spiritual visitors”. Even if all the seats behind are taken, you would do better to stand by the side rather than risk offending the spirits.
Regardless, the Chinese in Singapore observe these age-old traditions and beliefs as a form of respect for the dead. Do you abide by any of these superstitions that many believe in?
(Header image by dawn.com)