Ghost Festival which is the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar falls in the month of August yearly.
This is one of the well respected festival that all Chinese descendants strongly believed that Ghost Festival should not be criticized or ridiculed.
It is believed that the hungry ghost ( ghost or spirit from the dead ) are released from the Gates of Hell during this time of the year.
For generations, Chinese families believed that hungry ghosts are wandering spirits that had encounter :
- unjustified deaths ( accidents/ mishaps/ sacrifices ),
- the deceased body wasn’t given a proper burial ritual or funeral
- sudden deaths due to unexpected accidents
- When the Gates of Hell are open, these hungry ghosts started to roam ( fly or whatever ) on our planet earth.
During this time, it is crucial and important for living humans to be careful because the spirits or ghost are hunting down for living humans to replace them, something like possessing into the body. Lots of superstition beliefs are practiced and obeyed religiously.
Although we had seen such thing happens in the movies but in reality, this superstitions did happened to the unfortunate people.
Here are the Don’ts that you should avoid:
- Don’ts sit in the front row. There are “Getai” or Opera Street Performance for the ghosts and people to watch. However, those red plastic chairs at the front row are supposed to be left vacant. Nobody should be seated because these seats are reserved for the ghosts to be seated, to watch the performance. Otherwise, you may see the ghost sitting next to you .
- Don’t touch , step or kick. Watch where you are going during the Ghost Festival. You may encounter temporary alters on the road side, under the trees, near the drain or on the grass. Never ever step, kick or touch those prayer items offered. These alters are placed there in order to appease and respect the wandering ghost. If you had accidentally step or kick the alter items, quickly say “sorry” to it. You wouldn’t want the ghost to follow you back home,right?
- Don’t look under the alter. Prayer alters which are put up at home or temples are meant for the ghosts to enjoy the food offered. Do not bend your head down, looking over your legs because you may “see” the angry ghost eating food. Nobody likes to be seen eating under the table, right?
- Don’t stay out or swim. Avoid late night outings especially when the dark night falls in. It is believed that you might “bump” into them. Do not swim at night because those ghosts who were drowned would pull you down too. That is why you don’t see Chinese people swimming at night.
There are many more superstitions which you may find funny or disbelieving but one should not ridicule , make a joke about these myths during the Ghost festival.
It is better to be safe than sorry.
That is what my mother in law and my mom used to say.
Better stay at home !
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