Hungry Ghost Festival 2023: Things to Avoid

The ghosts come out to play after the sun sets for the day. The Hungry Ghost Festival, an annual celebration of the afterlife’s spirits in Singapore, is full of rules and regulations.

Singaporeans are prone to superstition. We enjoy exploring the mysterious, from fortunate numbers and urban folklore to observing the regulations for Chinese New Year. If you believe in superstition, you probably already know that ghosts are rumored to return to the living during Singapore’s Hungry Ghost Festival (16 August and 14 September). Particularly when Ghost Day occurs on the fifteenth night of the seventh month.

It takes place in the seventh lunar month and is a tradition unique to China. One of the most treasured occasions of the year, it is observed by Taoists and Buddhists in Singapore and is marked by festivities and ceremonies. By the way, it’s not Halloween. It’s not about scares or costumes; Hungry Ghost Month is very somber. It is said that when the gates of hell open, the dead come back to Earth to feast. Because of this, you may see people holding getai (Chinese opera) performances all around the island and burning joss paper as tributes to their deceased ancestors.

There is no reason to panic, though. Generally speaking, these ghosts are safe as long as you don’t bother them. Not sure what to avoid doing in Singapore during the Hungry Ghost Festival? All of them have been noted for you. Respect the custom or you could appear in our upcoming compilation of local ghost tales!

Things to Avoid During Hungry Ghost Festival:

1. In a rice dish, never hold your chopsticks vertically.

Your chopsticks could be mistaken for joss stick offerings by wandering spirits who are hungry. Therefore, avoid doing that unless you want to get their attention. Not to add that it’s impolite; Granny won’t like it.

2. Don’t make house improvements.

Put off making any house improvements. That entails remodeling your home and moving things around. It is said that doing this could frighten any lingering ghosts.

3. Don’t let the smoking smell scare you away.

Other than when a non-paper building catches fire, people frequently burn offerings for their ancestors. These are made of paper, encompassing items like cash, homes, vehicles, electronic devices, and even clothing. So, if you see a lot of ash flying around, especially on the first, fifteenth, and final days of the month, don’t be shocked. Leave it alone if you see a tiny fire or incense burning alongside the road during Singapore’s Hungry Ghost Festival together with what appears to be leftover food and beverages. That is anything or someone’s meal.

4. During getai performances, avoid sitting in the front row.

According to Chinese folklore, ghosts like entertainment besides eating. Getai, lavish performances that frequently incorporate traditional music, theater, and puppets, are used to amuse spirits. If you discover a Chinese opera in your neighborhood, don’t be shocked. Even if events like this are free, it’s important not to occupy the front row of seats. Who do you believe they are holding back for?

5. Don’t kill any insects or moths.

Do you recall ever spotting a moth at a wake? Chinese people think that spirits may take the form of insects, particularly moths. Therefore, gently nudge any of these flying animals out of your house if you notice them. They could just be dropping over to say hi, or they might be a relative.

6. Stay away from the water.

The time of year when drowned souls emerge to prey on the living. Forego your swimming sessions at this time if you’re feeling superstitious. Bedok Reservoir should also be avoided at night, just saying.

7. Never wear red.

Yes, it’s attention-grabbing, but at this particular moment, the incorrect target will be drawn to it. You’re better off conserving this color for National Day or Christmas since it’s thought to attract hungry spirits.

8. Don’t take pictures of offerings.

Keep your phone in your pocket if you don’t want ghostly figures or ‘extra persons’ in your pictures since it’s thought that cameras ‘catch’ lurking ghosts. No matter how impressive or ‘Instagrammable’ the goods are, resist the urge to take pictures of them. Not only is it impolite, but you can invite unwelcome guests over. It also goes without saying that you should never, under any circumstances, touch their offerings.

9. Avoid scheduling nighttime activities.

After sundown, you should stay safely inside your house since legend has it that the spirits of the dead roam the streets at night. If you must go outside, at least bring a friend with you so the ghosts won’t include you in their antics.

10. Keep your door closed at night.

Although we don’t know why you would leave your doors unlocked at night, please do so! Open doors are said to be invites for ghosts or bad energy to enter your home, and we don’t exactly want to embrace that atmosphere.

11. Don’t snoop around in places where you shouldn’t.

If horror films have taught us anything, it’s to avoid going alone to unsettling places. Singapore is undoubtedly a secure place, but why tempt the dead during the most ‘haunted’ time of the year?

12. Don’t leave your clothing hanging overnight to dry.

Wet clothes is thought to be an invitation for stray spirits to try them on and eventually “follow” you into the house. However, shouldn’t you be laying out clothes to dry while the sun is still shining?

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore?

The Chinese celebrate the memory of the departed for a month each year. The fourteen-day Hungry Ghost Festival takes place during the seventh lunar month and has strong roots in Buddhist and Taoist culture.

What period is the Hungry Ghost Festival in 2023?

The Hungry Ghost Festival really begins on August 16, 2023, and ends on September 14, 2023, since the “festivities” last for a full month throughout the 7th month, also known as the Ghost month.

What is the purpose of the Hungry Ghost Festival?

The Hungry Ghost Festival is a day of ancestor worship that dates back to the traditional Chinese custom of making sacrifices to the dead during the harvest season. Ancient Chinese people sacrificed seasonal foods to their gods in the fall as well.

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