Today marks an important event in the Lunar Calendar – The Ghost Festival or Hungry Ghost Festival! This festival typically starts from the 7th month in the Lunar Calendar and on the 15th Day, and lasts for a month.
Why the 7th month? Legend states that this is the month in which the realms of Heaven and Hell open up and the ghost or spirits of those passed supposedly wander the streets and drop into some houses. The ghosts are hungry and they want entertainment so during this time, Vietnamese will often be seen making special practices such as offering food or burning joss paper. It is said that ghosts later use the burnt paper, and why also special bank notes, houses and paper-mâché clothes, gold and other goods are burned.
An entertainment show is sometimes also organised for the ghosts at night. It usually includes opera, drama plays and even burlesque shows! The shows are very loud because it is believed that sound attracts the ghosts. And the end of the festival people float water lanterns or set them outside of their houses to help the ghosts find their way back home.
There are many taboos of dos and donts to observe during the month.
Here are the Top 5:
Don’t hang the washing at night – A ghost may notice it and borrow your clothes! When they return it, it’s likely to have a ghost’s scent which may cause the next wearer to suffer from a bad headache, flu or an even worse illness!
- Tip: Get your stuff in a tumble-dryer or to the local dry cleaners! It’ll save you having to hang your clothes out!
Don’t take photos of people at night, especially in dark places, unless you want to have an unsolicited photo-bomber standing beside them in the printed image. For you selfie-lovers: If you notice a mysterious presence beside you, well we think you can guess what that is. If you have managed to capture a creepy pic – send it to us and we’ll post it on Instagram!
Never shout out another person’s name at midnight because ghosts will remember the name and later trick the person into follow them.
- Tip: If there is someone you don’t like such as your ex, invite him or her to hang out and shout their name at midnight 😉
Don’t wear clothes with skull and bones images because the ghosts could mistake you for one of their own and take you back with them after their short visit to earth. There has been no mention against elephant pants or Bintang singlets – so those of you who have only packed these – you’re safe!
Don’t pick up any currency bills you see on the street. Chances are, this is money that has been offered to the ghosts, who will come after you later to claim it back! What if it is a large bill? Then you are probably okay picking it up since some poor traveller must have dropped it; people generally do not offer ghosts big bills.
- Tip: Apparently massive wads of Vietnamese Dong and US dollars are safe!