Do’s & don'ts I follow during Ghost Month

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star

The Philippines has been under quarantine for over four months, the longest lockdown in the world. And yet, there are no signs that the number of COVID-infected Filipinos will flatten or go down. On the contrary, the numbers continue to rise, sometimes with over 2,000 new cases reported in a day. As of this writing on July 29, we have breached the 85,000 mark surpassing China with 85,486 infected, 26,996 recoveries and 1,962 reported deaths according to the Department of Health.

And now that it’s August, also known as Ghost Month to the Chinese, I wonder what unfortunate surprises await us in the next couple of weeks. What exactly is the Ghost Month? In Chinese culture, there’s a belief that the gates of hell open and that ghosts wander among the living every 15th day of the seventh lunar month (August or September in the Gregorian calendar). This is called the Ghost Day while the seventh lunar month is known as the Hungry Ghost Month. This year, the Ghost Month is from Aug. 19 to Sept. 16, while the Ghost Day festival is on Sept. 2. It is believed that ghosts will be visiting their families, feasting and looking for victims during this period. While the ghosts are roaming, people are expected to offer sacrifices to their deceased ancestors and relatives. The hope is that the offerings of delicious food and the burning of incense will appease the ghosts and spare their living relatives from bad luck.

On Ghost Day evening, people in China write the names of their deceased relatives on paper lanterns (usually shaped like a lotus flower) with a candle inside. The lanterns are floated down the river in the belief that lost ghosts will follow them and find their way home.

During the Hungry Ghost Month, it is not advisable to make huge, life-changing actions like getting married, moving to a new house, starting a new job, signing important contracts, getting surgery and making big purchases like a car or a house.

Because Hungry Ghosts thrive in darkness, we should avoid being out late at night. This won’t be difficult since there’s a curfew all over the country. The ghosts are also attracted to black and red, and dark colors like navy blue and brown. Avoid these colors for they are considered inauspicious during this month. If you must wear these colors, add a pinch of brightness to liven up your attire. During this time, it’s best to wear happy hues like pink and yellow. For women, it’s preferred that you wear flats instead of high-heels because of the belief that when your feet are elevated from the ground, you’re vulnerable to being possessed by spirits through the heels!

I try to follow these simple do’s and don’ts. After all, there’s no harm in practicing them. After all, what do we have to lose? I also reinforce these with prayers, considering the pitiful state we are in now.

For me, the past 130 days have been an extended Ghost Month and a living nightmare. 2020 has been one awful year, to say the least. When the New Year came, I was so excited. I thought 2020 would be an auspicious year, the start of a decade that would bring clarity and promising beginnings. Instead, it became the year the whole world was brought to a screeching halt by a pandemic and the consequent global recession. Hopefully, 2021 will be kinder and more forgiving and a vaccine to cure COVID-19.


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