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August is coming and with it the Hungry Ghost Festival. This is quite a big event in Asia, starting on 16 August 2023 this year, which is the start of the 7th month of the Lunar calendar. On the 15th day of the 7th month, “Ghost Day” is celebrated, which falls on 30 August this year. After another 14 days, the Hungry Ghost Festival (Hungry Ghost Month) ends on 14 September 2023.  Incense for Hungry Ghost Month 2023


Hungry Ghost Month is one of the most important festivals associated with Buddhist and Taoist beliefs. According to Chinese mythology, on the first day of the Hungry Ghost Month the gates of the underworld (or hell) are opened to allow the souls and spirits of the dead to return to earth so they can visit their living relatives. It is a very important time to honour your deceased ancestors because, when ignored, the ghosts might get angry and bring various misfortunes.

Such spirits might cause you harm if your own energy level is low or exhausted and the Chinese therefore believe that you must be extra careful during Hungry Ghost Month, especially during the night hours. It is a time when the yin forces are very strong and mysterious things can happen.


To appease the ghosts and spirits, incense and food offerings are set up outside for the hungry souls and dead relatives to enjoy. Here in Singapore, big metal drums are set up everywhere, where residents can burn paper offerings for their ancestors in a safe way. These offerings can take on many forms! Mostly they are paper money, paper houses, paper cars, or whatever you wish for your deceased ancestors to have in their afterlife.


In addition, tents are set up in parks and green spaces near housing estates for colourful performances of Chinese opera and live “getai” performances. These are another highlight of the Hungry Ghost Festival period. “Getai” used to be a stage for traditional opera and puppet performances which were mainly performed in Chinese dialects. In Singapore, these performances have evolved to include modern pop songs in Chinese. Ever since the pandemic, some “Getai” performances are also streamed online.

Visitors are always welcome to watch the live shows but remember to leave the first row of seats empty, as these are reserved for the honoured ghosts!

Chinese Opera


Despite the festivities, Hungry Ghost Month is considered an inauspicious month where it is wise to stay away from certain activities in order to avoid attracting bad luck.

These are the main taboos:

    1. Avoid moving house or starting a new business during Hungry Ghost month as it is considered an inauspicious time for such activities.
    2. Try to be home before dark. Especially children, young adults and pregnant women are advised to stay indoors after dark as they are particularly susceptible to spirit possession.
    3. Do not wait alone under a tree or a bus stop in the dark, as the spirits love hanging out in such places.
    4. Do not turn your head if somebody calls your name.
    5. Do not go swimming in the Sea or in a lake as it is believed that evil spirits who previously drowned might try to pull you down and drown you in order for their re-birth.
    6. Avoid getting married, as weddings are the most obvious place for jealous female spirits to attack! They may curse and cast spells on the wedding couple – please be aware!
    7. Do not leave your laundry outside to dry during the night as the ghosts might settle in them. For the same reason, do not leave any open umbrellas outside to dry during the night either.
    8. Refrain from wearing clothes with your name on it.
    9. Do not pick up anything from the ground.
    10. Honour the offerings and do not disturb them.


Light up your home during this dark time and set up your own incense station. The sweet scents of Kemenyen or Sandalwood are particularly popular. You can also use a scented candle if that is what you prefer.

Protect the main entrance of your home with the 28 Hum Protection Wheel or the White Umbrella Goddess. Both are excellent protectors against ghosts and evil spirits.

If you are travelling during Hungry Ghost month, carrying protective amulets is even more important. You could wear a protective scarf or take a Travel Protection Amulet with 28 Hums along with you.

Travel Protection Amulet with 28 Hums
Travel Protection Amulet with 28 Hums

Even if you don’t travel, this amulet will be a good one to carry during this time as the 28 Hums Syllable dispels all malicious and malignant energies near you.

24 July 2023

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