What is Ghost Month?
Whenever the 7th month of the lunar calendar approaches, restless ghosts and malevolent spirits begin to roam the earth. At least, that’s what the Taoist and Buddhist belief says so. Various accounts tell of the origin of this season. Including this interesting tale about a Buddhist monk’s road to enlightenment and his desire to save his mother’s soul. If you have a close friend with a Chinese lineage, chances are you’ve already heard about the dreaded Ghost Month. If you’re of Oriental lineage yourself, then you know all about the ins and outs of this hush-hush season.
Ghost Month or the Hungry Ghost Festival falls between August 11th to September 9th this 2018. And if you’re a keen believer, here are the various dos and don’ts that you need to follow to keep any unwanted misfortune at bay.
Offerings and ceremonies
Because legends in ancient China used to say that evil spirits and impish ghosts can disturb the peace and balance of living souls, many believe that people can die without warning, get into accidents, attract misfortune and unexpected tragedies, or fail in their respective businesses because of these ghosts’ mischief.
It is said that the Gate of Hell is opened during this time as well. Previously, the people in China would sometimes hold sacrificial ceremonies where money is burned at the roadside to worship the spirits, as well as pray for safety and provide food offerings. Some citizens are told to place food and incense at their doorstep to keep the ghosts from entering the household.
Protective amulets and lucky charms
As is the case with most beliefs, amulets and charms are said to be effective against malevolent spirits during Ghost Month. “Fu” amulets are hung on furniture to ward off any negative energy, as well as placed at the entrances of houses and buildings for protection. Auspicious symbols are supposedly effective in keeping wearers safe from harm. Prayer beads, glutinous rice, bright paintings, and even coarse salt can put believers at ease during this time.
Forbidden practices during ghost month
In general, believers are warned not to do anything risky to steer clear of dark influences and any yin energy. For instance, you are not supposed to attend funerals, nor should you host major milestones and life events such as weddings and surgical procedures. You’re not even allowed to face the mirror while you sleep, lest your soul get stolen away. Talk about major creeps!
Just to be safe, believers should avoid the following at all costs:
- Heading out late at night so as not to invite any unwanted attention from evil spirits who are supposedly stronger and more powerful during this time
- Hosting big parties and events (this invites the ghosts’ jealousy)
- Venturing out to sea and travelling locally or abroad (similar to our local Holy Week superstitions)
- Letting children, the sick, or the elderly go out alone at night
Best business practices to stay on top of your game
Of course, bad luck during Ghost Month always includes business-related transactions. You are not supposed to make any big purchases like buying houses or cars, nor should you sign contracts and business deals if you don’t want to end up losing all of your money and going totally bankrupt. Your chances of having a new business venture take off without a hitch are also pretty much nil at this point.
In the construction industry, moving to a new office, renovating houses, or building new structures is strictly forbidden. Most believers, however, have found a loophole here—if construction starts before Ghost Month begins, then you’re off the hook.
Once you open up your shop and official business hours begin, you should never buy on credit, and the very first sale has to be made in cash. If you need to pay off any debt, do so during the day and never during night time to keep your money from flowing out. Even the stock market is greatly affected by Ghost Month, but if you are still keen on emerging on top despite all this, this practical and financially sound guide can help you navigate your way through this tricky circumstance. Investors behave very differently during Ghost Month. So it’s up to you to determine which course of action you want to take.
What do YOU think about all of these Ghost Month dos and don’ts? Do you practice a few of them yourself? Or do you have a couple more that we haven’t even touched upon yet? Whatever you choose to believe in, you can’t deny that all these folk beliefs and cultural practices are definitely interesting. After all, even Christmas has its own set of traditions and ancient beliefs. And it’s these intriguing customs that keep our cultural differences exciting!