Hello everyone, today I am prompted to write about something that interests me every year since I have spent a bit of my life growing up in Southeast Asia. Do you know that every year in August (according to the Chinese calendar, the seventh month) there is this festival known as the Hungry Ghost Festival? It may sound creepy, interesting or strange (take your pick) to some of you who have never heard of this Asian festival perhaps reading this Wikipedia article would explain a bit.

Sometimes known as the Eastern answer to the Western world’s Halloween, Hungry Ghost Festival does not have trick-or-treating or Halloween merry-making parties. Hungry Ghost Festival is taken very seriously by some people in Southeast Asia and East Asia, including those living in Asian communities around the world. In case you are wondering if there are any don’t’s when it comes to Hungry Ghost Festival, well, you have guessed it right. According to a recent article in Malaysia’s The Star, some tips ‘surviving’ Hungry Ghost Festival will interest you. That is not all, recalling from what I know having spent a bit of my life in Southeast Asia, here are more don’t’s below:

  • No swimming during the seventh month of Chinese calendar (Western calendar, August) because there is a belief that the water ghost will drag the person underwater and drown him/her
  • No wandering out at night because it is believed the ghosts will either follow the person home or take the opportunity to possess him/her
  • Having weddings or engagement parties during the seventh month are absolute no-nos because it is considered inauspicious to hold one in the seventh month. The same goes for travelling overseas, buying new furniture, moving to a new house or starting a new business venture.
  • Never make any comment or complaint about the smell of burning incense paper meant for the deceased.
  • No singing, whistling and screaming during the seventh month because it will attract the ghosts.
  • No cussing and swearing during the seventh month because one would end up incurring the wrath of a dead spirit who will not tolerate one peep of an explicit coming from a human being’s lips.
  • Don’t step or kick on the offerings meant for the dead. If one does it unintentionally, it takes “I am sorry” to make it right. If one does the stepping and kicking deliberately, one only ends up incurring the wrath of the dead spirits
  • Never take offerings for the dead as personal consumption (that is what I was told by a schoolmate long ago, which means one should leave that chicken drumstick, orange or pork dumpling alone on the praying altar which is meant for a deceased person)
  • Last but not least, avoid saying the word “ghost” as frequently as possible because one would end up having the ghosts coming for that person (I too was told about this by my schoolmate)

These are all the don’t’s I can recall. What says you about Hungry Ghost Festival? Do you also know other don’t’s when it comes to Hungry Ghost Festival? Opinions are welcomed.