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7 August - 8 September
Ghost Month

7 August 2006
 

Lunar July is considered as a month when the residents of the Yin World are granted temporary visit to the Yang World.

Some Chinese communities believe that the gate of the underworld slam opens the first day of lunar July and remains so until the end of the month. Since Fire Dog year of 2006 is a leap year in the Chinese lunar calendar, this means year 2006 will have a double Ghost Month, which began fourteen days ago and won’t end until September 21.

But according to more authentic sources in mainland China and Hong Kong, the real lunar July associated with the parole period for the ghosts is between Liqiu (立秋: the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 135°) and Bailu (白露: the day when the Sun is exactly at the celestial longitude of 165°). During this period, the gate opens particularly wide on lunar July 15. This year the Sun passes the 135° longitude position at 11: 45 pm tonight (East China Time), which means today is the day when the Ghost Gate at the northeast direction is kicked open with a bang, and tomorrow will be the biggest field day for ghosts during their annual summer vacation. It is like two circular trains moving in opposite directions passing each other by on separate tracks once in a year. At that particular moment, passengers can peer into each others’ windows, and those who are most desperate therefore most brave – like hungry ghosts – would jump through the gates to collect some trophies.

Does that mean your ancestors will come to say hello and enjoy a picnic with you? That depends. Because from the perspective of Buddhism, being a ghost is just one of six ways of living. As for being a roaming ghost who relies on your annual donation to fill its stomach is just like being a homeless man who goes to a soup kitchen for a free lunch, which is not a normal way of life, not even by ghost’s standard.

Having ghosts roaming around is definitely not an auspicious sign. So traditionally there are many "nos" and "don’ts" related to this period. Here is a list for your reference or entertainment:

Nos:

1, No wedding

2, No commencement of business

3, No commencement of construction projects

4, No relocation of residence

Don’ts:

5, Don’t wear clothes that has your name tag, so ghosts won’t remember who you are;

6, Don’t call others by their full name when you are in a deserted place so ghosts won’t identify them;

7, Don’t answer if someone calls you when you are in a deserted place;

8, Don’t pat anyone on the shoulder, because you may extinguish his or her life fires (one on the head top and two over the shoulders), which would make this person more vulnerable before ghosts;

9, Don’t take photos at night, so you won't find yourself having a party with ghosts in pictures;

10, Don’t light your touch towards trees, as you may disturb the ghosts. Roaming ghosts are known to love resting on tree tops during dark hours just like homeless men often take shelter on park benches at night;

11, Don’t whistle when you pass by a cemetery, instead you should keep saying "excuse me" as you would in a crowded street.

12, Don’t forget to wear blessed pedants, so you can drive ghosts away from you;

13, Don’t leave your clothes drying outside after dark. Roaming ghosts may think they are donated items;

14, Don’t lean on a wall because that’s what ghosts normally do. If you stand side by side with them, they may take you as a good buddy and keep following you around.

15, Don’t hang bells in front of your house – the sound will call for a congregation of ghosts.

16, Don’t pick up money on the road - it might be left there by ghosts. It's a bad idea to steal something from a ghost;

17, Don’t wear clothes in black or red colour when you go out at night, these colours have special meanings in the yin world and the ghosts may get over-excited.

 
 
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