Asians will observe Ghost Month beginning today, August 19, until September 16, with many Filipino-Chinese expected to shy away from activities that may affect their luck.
But feng master Hanz Cua said that the annual Asian tradition is something not to be afraid of.
“It is an occasion to remember our departed loved ones and friends.”
“Hindi ito dapat katakutan. Ito ay isang tradition para maalala rin natin ang mga yumao nating kamag-anak, kaibigan, o kakilala,” said Cua in an exclusive online interview.
In the Philippines, Filipino-Chinese follow the custom related to the annual festival which usually takes place on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar.
During this festival, it is believed that the Gates of Hell (or the underworld) are sprung open and the hungry ghosts or lost souls roam around to visit their families or find victims among the living.
“If you make the lost souls happy, they will bring you wealth. The more paper money (not to be confused with the actual money) you burn, the more wealth you will receive.
Prayers are also very important,” he said. Cua added: “People may offer food such as pork, chicken, pork, beer, rice, soft drinks, liquor; and even cigarettes starting at 9 a.m.
As soon as the flame of the lighted candle is out, then you can eat the food you offered.
“Don’t forget to change plates.”
Some of the rituals or activities during the festival are the wearing of red or happy colors, avoiding swimming, major surgery, buying houses or condominiums, signing contracts, construction activities at home, hiring new people for companies, courtship, and whistling, among others.
“If you have started construction activities before Aug. 19, then you may continue throughout the ghost month. It is not good to start such activities during the Hungry Ghost festival based on ancient beliefs,” he said.
In some Asian countries, people put up theater shows to offer entertainment to the hungry ghosts.
“They will perform in front of empty chairs and these empty chairs are allotted for the hungry ghosts.”
It is also believed that disasters and other bloody incidents are likely to happen during the ghost month.
Some of the unforgettable events or tragedies here and abroad that took place during the previous ghost months include the 9/11 terror attacks in the US (2001); the death of Princess Diana of Wales in Paris, France (Aug. 31, 1997); plane crash involving former Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo (Aug. 12, 2012); Manila hostage crisis that killed eight persons (Aug. 23, 2010); Payatas dumpsite tragedy in Quezon City where hundreds were buried alive in a trash slide (July 10, 2000); massive landslide at Cherry Hills Subdivision in Antipolo, Rizal where 60 people died (Aug. 3, 1999); Bocaue, Bulacan pagoda tragedy that left 266 people dead (July 2, 1993); and the killer earthquake that rocked Baguio City and other parts of the country on July 16, 1990 which trapped and killed some 1,000 people.