The annual Hungry Ghost Festival is nearly upon us, and the gates of hell will soon be open in Singapore. For the Chinese, it’s the time of year to make offerings of food, money and entertainment to wandering spirits.
For many, it’s also a month full of superstitious elders reminding us of all the various superstitious observations. I don’t know about you, but I’ve survived without ever once getting possessed, because I was a well behaved young boy that listened to his Ah Ma.
Don’t worry though, I’ve compiled a list of 20 things you can do to either push the boundaries and test these superstitions, or abide by and live to see another festival.
1. Stay Out Past Midnight
This superstition could just be an easier way for mothers to get their teenagers home at least one month a year, or it could actually hold water. Apparently spirits have better fortitude than humans at night, making it easier for possession.
2. Pee & Spit On Trees
It may seem like it, but trees definitely aren’t an appropriate place to pee, or so they keep trying to tell me. You never know who or what just might be creeping in the shadows.
3. Stare At Open Flames
Doing so might reveal prophetic visions… according to the Red priests and priestesses from Game of Thrones. I haven’t found any explanation for this, but I’m going out on a limb and say that you might get hypnotised and then possessed.
4. Play Football With Joss Sticks & Offerings
This is pretty general and almost every child growing up in Singapore knows this. If you do kick anything though, then you best run, or say sorry. If not you just might be followed home.
5. Open An Umbrella Indoors/At Night, Especially If It’s Red
It’s just plain bad luck to open an umbrella indoors, and you sure as hell don’t need an umbrella at night. If it is raining however, then I strongly suggest you get a black one or get out of the rain and take shelter somewhere.
6. Emo The Night Away
Getting emotional and crying at night, is also a no-no – it attracts the spirits lurking around. Try to stay as resolute and silent as possible, and channel your inner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
If you are hoping to push the boundaries, then put on some Avril Lavigne and sob away. Who knows what might happen.
7. Hang Around At Bus Stops After Bus Services End
If you do however get into some sort of unfortunate combo where it rains, and all you have is a red umbrella, a bus stop with no more running busses and all you feel like doing is crying, then what you have is the perfect plot for a horror movie.
Get the popcorn ready.
8. Sit Right In Front At Getai Performances
This is quite a common understanding, so you can’t feign ignorance. The first few rows at those live musical performances aren’t kept empty for you… But who am I to tell you where to sit, you sit wherever you please.
Oh and if you’re feeling REALLY brave, try to get a peek through the curtains under the stage.
The saying goes that if you whistle at night, something else might join you in song. So if you’ve always been looking to sing duets but have no friends, then here you go.
10. Swim At Night
The night time is always the best time to be doing laps in a pool or any sort of exercise. Swimming pools don’t have bottomless abysses, so don’t worry, nothing is going to pull your leg and drag you under while you swim.
11. Move House
When you move house during the Hungry Ghost Festival, you’re not just moving in to your swanky new place, you’re inviting these wandering spirits into your home to live with you as well. But who doesn’t like freeloading ghosts that never ever pay rent.
12. Poke Your Chopsticks Vertically Into Your Rice
Stabbing your chopsticks into your bowl of rice is a pretty rude gesture. Aside from pissing off your grandmother, it’s also an invitation to spirits to indulge in your dinner. So if you’re really lonely, or super generous, problem solved.
13. Keep Your Front Door Open At Night
An open door is an invitation for many things – stray cats, unwanted children and of course, mean spirits. Never ever leave your front door open, no matter what month it is.
14. Paint Your Nails Black
You know who else has black fingernails? Dead people. That’s right, the dead like to associate with one another in a happy community, and if you’re rocking the same look as them, they’ll start hitting on you.
15. Check Yourself Out In The Mirror ALOT
You need to look your best at all times of the day, and nothing should stop you, not even a ghostly figure standing behind your reflection.
16. Be Around Squeaky Doors
Doors are gateways for spirits, and a squeaky one is like a Pokestop with lures to these hungry ghosts. Keep your door hinges oiled unless you like unwanted guests.
17. Lean Against Walls
Ghosts enjoy creeping along walls according to folklore, so it’s a good thing we’ve got so many walls in Singapore. So many walls perfect for your #OOTD backdrop and yet another opportunity to get a combo: have your picture taken against a wall at night.
18. Let Those Bangs Down
According to old Chinese lore, our Qi or life force is concentrated in our foreheads. Probably because that’s where our frontal lobe is. Covering it with bangs makes you more attractive to ghosts seeking a new body. Or pin it up, it’s your choice.
19. Leave Your Clothes Hanging Out At Night
The best time to dry one’s clothes are under the light of the moon (duh). If you’re guessing that clothes left out at night are an invitation to spirits to try them on, then you’re spot on. These spirits will then linger and you’ll have spirited clothes.
20. Take As Many Photos As You Can At Night
When the sun goes down, the spirits roam. Some cultures believe that cameras can capture fragments of one’s soul. You should definitely snap a selfie or two in the moonlight.
Now that you’ve found out the various ways you can lease your body as a host for another entity, perhaps you just might enjoy this Hungry Ghost Festival a little bit more.