By Robert Requintina
Asians will observe the Hungry Ghost Month starting Thursday, August 1, as they shy away from business deals, wedding dates, surgery, and other activities that might affect their luck.
This year, the ghost month will take place until Aug. 29, with its peak happening on Aug. 15.
“Ghost Month” is a popular tradition that is widely observed by neighboring countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
In the Philippines, the Filipino-Chinese strictly 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 period, the Gates of Hell (or the underworld) are sprung open and the hungry ghosts or lost souls will roam around to visit their families or find victims among the living,” says Master Hanz Cua, Asia’s youngest feng shui master, during an exclusive interview in Mandaluyong City.
Hungry Ghosts are those that committed suicide or died of violent deaths such as murder, rape, and other accidents.
Souls that have been completely ignored by their loved ones are also considered “hungry ghosts.”
“In the ghost month, our goal is to make the hungry ghosts happy, he says. “In order to make them happy, we should offer lechon (roast pork), rice, chicken, beer, cigarettes, and candies. We call them ‘happy food’ because these are some of the food that made them happy when they were still alive,” said Cua.
“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 said people should wear lots of red and should avoid swimming, major surgery, buying condos or houses, signing contracts, construction activities at home, hiring new people for companies, courtship, and whistling, among others.
It is 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 on US (2001); 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); the Bocaue, Bulacan pagoda tragedy that left 266 people dead (July 2, 1993); 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, among others.