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Don't get married! It's the Chinese Hungry Ghost month

Photo by giantbomb CC BY-NC

MANILA, Philippines - Even at this modern era, most Filipinos are very fanatical on superstitious beliefs to placate the souls of the underworld.

Our ancestors had introduced us to the belief that we have to say “tabi tabi po” every time we walk pass an unfamiliar territory covered with big trees and “punso,” which is believed to be the residing place of “dwendes,” to avoid being harmed.

In many provinces, especially those in remote areas, children were mandated to go home before the dark to avoid spirits hunting for their preys. No one could really tell if these are true or just a way to discipline the children.

For the Chinese, August is the hungry ghost month which falls on the 7th Month of the Chinese Lunar calendar.  This year, the taboo spans from July 27 to August 24. The Chinese believes that it is the most ill-fated time of the year. It is the time when the gate of hell is opened and the spirit and soul from the other world enter and roam around our world.

According to the Chinese, these are the things that you have to avoid during the hungry ghost month:

Whatever you do, don't stay out late at night

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For the Chinese, this is the time where the yin energy is at the strongest and most powerful. Because of this, bad things could happen if you are not careful. They also believe that the spirits could roam the streets freely to their content without being obstructed by human beings as the night approaches.

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Don't travel by land, air and sea. Just don't travel, okay?

It is advisable to postpone any major travel or vacation during this time to avoid any mishap or accident. Although accidents may happen any day, extra precaution is recommended in this month.

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Do not step on a praying paraphernalia or burning paper/food

These are the offerings to the ghost. Stepping on these will offend the spirits. Would you not be offended if they did the same to your food?

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Do not move to a new house or change new furniture

When moving furniture to a new unoccupied space, some ghosts may invite themselves over. They might consider the new house as theirs as well. They could use the house as their hiding place to escape from going back to their own realm.

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Do not curse or swear everywhere, get hold of your filthy mouth

The spirits might assume that they are the ones being cursed at and might get offended.

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Do not get married

Bad curses or hexes may be placed by the spirits on those who will get married this month, which may lead to not a happy ever after. They might even crash your wedding party, which you obviously did not plan for.

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Do not place your child on the offering altar when you are visiting the temples or the sites where the Guardian of Hungry Ghosts is located

Anything placed on the offering altar may be considered as an offering to the spirits and they will take it.

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Do not whistle or sing at night

The spirits might assume that you are calling them. The noises might catch the attention of the spirits roaming around. Do you want to sing a duet? perhaps a choir?

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Do not swim

There are spirits who have drowned and there is a belief they may be out to take revenge or to find a substitute to take their place in death to allow for their reincarnation or to leave the place where their souls linger.

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Do not look underneath the altar table/offerings table when there is a prayer session

If you want a glance of the spirits feasting on the offerings, peak under the table at your own risk. But then again, no one wants to be disturbed when having a delightful meal.

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