Thursday, August 24, 2017

25 Things Not to Do During Chinese Ghost Month

By Asia Pop Culture

Ghost or Yulan Festival in Taiwan
According to Chinese tradition, the Ghost Month falls on the seventh month of each Lunar Calendar year, and Ghost Festival (中元節) is on the 15th of the Ghost Month.  Right now we are already in the Ghost Month of 2017 since it falls on Aug. 22.  However, according to several Feng Shui masters, June is a leap month in this Year of Rooster (The Chinese Lunar Calendar has a leap month about every three years), so that means year 2017 gets a double dose of the Ghost Month!

In Chinese culture, once a year during the Ghost Month, ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm to visit the living.  The gates of hell officially open wide on the 15th of the Ghost Month, the Ghost Festival.  

The Ghost Festival (中元節) is also known as Yulan Festival (盂蘭節), which is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival in many Asian countries.  Both Taoist and Buddhist high priests and monks would perform rituals, ceremonies and food offerings to absolve the sufferings of the deceased.

Burning the Joss Paper

Many people pay respect to their deceased friends or family members by burning joss paper (金紙), incense along with many food offerings.  It is a general belief in Chinese culture that spirits and ghosts suffer from extreme poverty, huger and many cruel punishments in Hell (based on the most strict Buddhist standards, a majority of the human race would end up in Hell without a comprehensive conduct and cognitive reform.).  Joss paper (金紙) serves as afterlife currency, while incense and food would relieve some of the sufferings of their loved ones who passed away.

Incense and food offerings on Ghost Festival in Taiwan

Most of the Chinese consider the Ghost Month as unlucky and try to be extra careful conducing any activities during the month.  Below are the top 25 things compiled by Taiwan News that you should avoid doing during this lunar month.  Many westerners may think this is simply superstition, but you never know.....
  1. Don’t repair your house because the ghosts are apparently looking to mess up things that are being fixed or repaired. 
  2. Don’t move into a new home. 
  3. Don’t enter into new relationships. 
  4. Avoid breaking up with your current significant other as it may lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.  
  5. Couples should avoid getting married as your marriage may not last long.  
  6. Don’t drive late at night to avoid accidents and sightings of ghosts as they may disturb you.  
  7. Avoid getting into arguments as they may lead to more serious situations.  
  8. Avoid looking at the mirror at night.  
  9. Avoid visiting hospitals.  
  10. Avoid wandering the streets at night; ghosts are looking for a spare body to possess or sometimes a soul to replace theirs so they can come back to the world of the living. 
  11. Avoid whistling at night and making noise such as knocking at night.  
  12. When someone taps on your shoulder once, do not look back as it may be a trick for spirits to possess you. 
  13. Don’t turn your head when you hear someone call your name at night; instead, you should turn your whole body around.  
  14. Stay away from water activities.  
  15. Don’t walk alongside the wall.  
  16. Don’t hang wet clothes outside at midnight.  
  17. Don’t use a lot of black or red as it is said to attract hungry spirits.  
  18. Stay calm when surprised, don’t be too emotional.  
  19. Do not step on or kick the offerings left on the roadside.  
  20. Don’t obsess over ghosts and ghouls and don’t go looking for them as they may find you instead.  
  21. Don’t open an umbrella inside your house.  
  22. Avoid buying puppets, sculptures or dolls.  
  23. Don’t say the word “ghost”.  
  24. Avoid standing under trees or bus stops at night.  
  25. And most importantly don’t tell a Chinese or Taiwanese person that the Ghost Festival beliefs are superstitious.
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