The Hungry Ghost Festival is upon us! It is believed that during the ghost month, the 7th lunar month, the realms of Hell are open and the spirits cross over to visit the living world. It is common to see people in the streets offering ritualistic foods, burning incense, joss paper, paper goods such as clothing, electronics, gold for the visiting spirits of their ancestors.
If your superstitious grandma hasn't already washed you with holy sage water, here are a list of taboos you should avoid this month.
1. Don't stay up late or stroll alone at night, you might bump into some of the ghosts hanging around. Be warned night owls!
2. Don't take selfies or take videos. You may get an unexpected photo-bomber...
3. Don't poke your chopsticks vertically into your rice. This looks like incense used when praying to ancestral spirits, the ghosts may think that you’re inviting them to share your meal.
4. Don't swim in the open sea as it is said the water spirits might drown people in order to reincarnate.
5. As the month is considered to be inauspicious, do not move to a new house, start new businesses or marry.
6. Don't pick up coins or money found on the street, but if you do, never bring any home. The money is used to bribe the guards of Hell 'Bull Head' and 'Horse Face'. if you offend them, they might make the afterlife hard for you.
7. Don't respond to strange sounds or smells, this might be spirits trying to contact you.
8. Don't step on or kick the offerings by the roadside. If someone were to step on any offerings by accident, he or she should apologize loudly to the spirits.
9. Similarly don't eat the offerings, these are the food for the spirits. If you haven’t asked for permission to eat the offerings, you might attract more bad luck.
10. Don't sleep facing the mirror or anything reflective as it attracts the ghosts and causes nightmares!