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Explaining the Hungry Ghost Month

August 10, 2018

 

Special Contribution Column, Malaya Business Insight, August 10, 2018 

 

(If you’ve ever wondered exactly what the term “ghost month”  means for you, for business, and for those who follow this tradition, below is a primer on the cultural background and guidelines to better understand the culture and what it means. This piece hope to encourage readers to prepare accordingly and engage respectfully with those who observe this season)

In Chinese culture, the period August 11 to September 9 this year is a time to be very careful. In Chinese culture, this is the 7th lunar month commonly referred to as the Hungry Ghost Month, which corresponds to Halloween in Western culture, with the actual Hungry Ghost Day falling on August 25. The Chinese believe that on this day, the gates of Hell open up, releasing spirits to visit the living, seeking to be fed.

“It is believed that hungry ghosts are ghosts of people that have not found everything they need to survive in the afterlife. If someone passes on, but does not have enough food, water, shelter and other material things, it will come back into the world of the living to scare people and feed off their energy and fear,” according to feng shui expert Marites Allen.

In the Chinese culture, the entire month is a period of excessive yin energy, therefore people must veer away from yin activities like attending wakes or funerals, visiting the sick, or even wearing black lest they attract more negative energies. It is also believed that people easily get sick and are more likely to meet with disasters and accidents during this period. Another superstition is that swimming should be avoided because malevolent spirits could cause drowning. Folks are advised to forego late nights and choose a better time to get married, start a business, move house, or even travel.

For those who observe Hungry Ghost Month, Marites advises those in business to exercise due diligence before closing transactions and to sign major contracts only on 'safe' days to avoid losses. "This is where the Feng Shui Almanac comes in handy", she says. The Almanac is a valuable guide for scheduling important personal and business activities on favorable days to guarantee positive results. For extra protection, she recommends displaying the Five Element Pagoda in the home and office, or wearing protective amulets like mantra accessories and medallions. In her Frigga Charmed Life boutiques, shawls with protective mantras and symbols sell fast nearing the Ghost Month.

In a recent online live streaming, Ms. Allen mentioned that these activities are usually avoided:

·        Going to yin places such as hospitals, cemeteries, or wakes. Delay them but if you must, then wear proper amulets.

·        Scheduling major life events, like weddings, moving to a new house, opening business. You might invite unwanted spirits.

·        Going out late at night. Spirits are believed to be strongest at night. Some wandering spirits might follow you back home. Again, if you really have to go out, wear protection like medallions

·        Scheduling major renovations. Those who have started before the Ghost Month may continue the renovation. Otherwise, reschedule after the last day of the Ghost Month.

·        Hosting housewarming parties; again you might invite unwanted spirits.

·        Wearing black outfit. If you cannot avoid doing so, wear protection amulets or symbols.

·        Going on long-haul travels. If it cannot be avoided, bring amulets with you.

·        Killing rare insects in the garden. They may be the manifestation of spirits or even your departed loved ones.

·        Leaving clothes to hang outside to dry.

·        Engaging in too much romantic gestures especially in dark places. The ghosts might get jealous.

·        Referring to the spirits as ‘ghosts.’ Instead refer to them as ‘your friend.’

·        Picking up coins in streets and never bring them home.. They might have been used as offerings for the hungry ghosts.

·        When invited to watch a Chinese opera during the festival, do not take any of the front seats, which are believed ‘reserved’ for the departed spirits.

·         Swimming or going near the sea. It is said that the ghosts might try to drown you.

How to keep safe

Hungry ghosts are believed to be so desperate that unless fed, they could bring bad luck to those whose energy levels are very low. So how are they satisfied? Not with human food, although some people offer those as a token, but with smoke because that is what they can smell. We should feed them by burning kemenyen incense and reciting some mantras to appease their spirits. Once satisfied, they become our protectors and cosmic guardians. Using protective cures also helps in ensuring that they do not cause mischief in our lives. The Hum pendant worn next to the skin can protect you from potential harm from these spirits. There are other ways of appeasing spirits during this precarious period. Doing charity work to gain cosmic favor is one of them. Burning incense, wearing amulets-let time tell if they indeed work to keep misfortune at arm's length. To paraphrase an old saying: Better an ounce of precaution than a ton of woes.

For more suggestions on how to keep safe during the Hungry Ghost Month, please call 0920 9509390 or visit any Frigga Charmed Life boutique in Metro Manila and Cebu. Follow Ms. Allen’s social media accounts: Marites Allen (FB & IG) and Feng Shui Queen (FB & IG).

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