It’s Hungry Ghost Month!
What does this mean for you and your dog?
For all those new to Singapore or Asian cultures, Hungry Ghost Month is the 7th lunar month each year, when it’s believed the gates of hell open. Like Halloween. Spirits, souls, ghosts, and all else from the other world are free to wander. To appease them, food offerings are left, along with incense, everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Seemingly random spots along the walkway, too. You will most definitely find them at hotels, along with big bonfires. And housing estates.
It’s also believed that on the 15th day of this 7th lunar month your ancestors come back for a visit. On other festival days, families go pay their respects to their forefathers. So give and take, I suppose.
In Singapore, stages are set up for getai or live performances for spirits and humans alike.
The most important thing, as always, is respect. I have some pretty gluttonous dogs so I have to be eagle-eyed about the placements of these offerings and steer clear of them. The offerings are meant for spirits, and not snacky dogs. Also the offerers would not be pleased.
I live in a pretty traditional neighborhood so throughout the year, I find incense plucked into the grass along the pavement anyway. So I’ve learned to not worry whether it’s Hungry Ghost Month or not and just stay away from all things not grass, tree, and flower.
If your dog is skittish, I’d stay away from the performances as well. They can get pretty loud. These performances are also popular with the older folks, who from their general lack of exposure to dogs, may not be so happy with your dogs sniffing about.
If you think “humbug” then I have a story to tell you about our first Hungry Ghost Month in Singapore. Was it a double month? Yes, sometimes there are two long months.
We had no idea what was going on, or that anything was even going on! We took our normal night walk with Blackspot. Now she’s a pretty mellow easy-going dog. But when we were approaching this big garbage can of fire, the hair on her back went up and she watched it very suspiciously. She kept her eyes peeled and 100% focused on that can as she circled it. She walked backwards away from it, never having her back to it, until we were well away. It wasn’t even her first can of fire!
So if you think nothing goes on, well, I’d disagree. Blackspot’s never done that before or since. After that night, we decided to stay away from burning garbage canisters of fire, and away from that street until Hungry Ghost Month was over!