10 Hungry Ghost Festival Taboos to Avoid

With the arrival of September, it is now the Chinese ghost month. The month that our parents explicitly warned us about and have various pre-cautions for.

Canopies will be erected, and triangular flags will be propped up on every signpost and lamppost along roads. The smell of incense will fill up the night sky which may trigger the jeepers creepers in you, making the hair behind your neck stand up uncomfortably.

Noise from late night performances will also ring out throughout the night and your elders, especially your elders warning you of certain taboos to avoid this time of the month.

Here are 10 thing to not do during the month of the hungry ghost:

1) Leave your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice

Our parents hate it, our friends hate it, chopstick etiquettes dictate when whenever we pause or stop eating. Leaving your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl is massively frown upon in the Chinese culture as it’s similar to seeing a pair of joss stick at an altar, it is also believed that passing spirits will mistake your rice bowl as a sacrifice and will possess the diner to devour it.

2) Do not take photographs at night

Macro view of a street in Tokyo at night time, street photography

It is believed that taking photographs of places, especially in dark areas are more likely to result in an earie sight in photobombing phantoms showing up on screen.

3) Avoid late nights out

It’s not a good month to stay out too late as night go-ers are more likely to follow a victim home or worst, possess them.

4) Refrain from sitting in the front row of live shows

Have you ever noticed that at live stage performances, the front row is always left unoccupied throughout the night? The shows are actually meant for wandering spirits and the front row seats are reserved for said spirits; sitting in their seats is believed to bring bad luck or serious ailments.

5) Stay away from swimming activites

According to traditional belief, spirits of those who died by drowning will lurk beneath the waters waiting to drown an unsuspecting living being. This apparently supplies them a shot at rebirth as it basically works like as soul for a soul.

6) Never kick food offerings

Sights of food under trees or at pavements would be a norm this month as it’s offered to any wandering spirit. Stay clear of it in your path as kicking them away may result in an angry spirit that will personally find you punished for your ignorance.

7) Never step on dead people money

Having your foot anywhere near sensitive things such as “hell money” is extremely frown upon, especially by the entities that are set to “receive” them. 

8) Don’t hang out clothes to dry at night

We get it Malaysia’s weather is unpredictable and hanging your clothes to dry indoors may be one of the way to get it done. However, refrain from doing so this month as something else may find that blouse as good looking as you do. On top of that, clothes resemble a human body and may attract spirits to cling on to them.

9) Never turn your head when your shoulder is tapped, or when your name is being called from behind

According to traditional belief, humans have two protective flames, one on each shoulder and turning your head will result in them being extinguished, hence, making you vulnerable to lingering spirits; to prevent that turn your whole body instead.

10) Don’t whistle or make unnecessary noises at night

Wandering spirits may be attracted to whistling as they would think people are calling out to them. Celebrations at night is also best to be avoided because you may attract an unwanted guest.

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