By Finder blogger: Andrea McKenna
Do you believe in ghosts?
You should, because they were just here!
And don’t worry, you’re not off your rocker – it’s a celebration!
Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore
August 31st marks the end of the Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore this year, where for a whole month the dead returned to the earthly plane to receive gifts of food and other offerings like paper Ferraris and iPhone burned in the many metal containers situated around town.
In Chinese culture, the fest is called Zhong Yuan Jie, and there were a few bits of advice we needed to heed to avoid having the ghosts follow you home, such as not wearing red, not swimming in pools and not responding to calls when out walking late at night.
But in some other cultures, believing in ghosts was a bit risky because people would think you were crazy. Let’s face it; if you started a conversation with “My dead relative visited me last night…” you would most certainly be opening yourself up to doubts about your sanity.
So, I kind of like being in Southeast Asia because that is not such a far-fetched idea.
The West’s Halloween also told of ghosts roaming the world for a night. Although it had similar origins as Hungry Ghost Fest, has evolved into more of a Hallmark Holiday, an American term that means it has been commercialized and gotten away from its spiritual and historic roots.
However, the rise of such TV shows as “Ghost Hunters,” which at one point actually videotaped a ghost on an infrared camera, and other paranormal shows around the world, is making it a bit easier to lift the veil between the living and the dead.
Singapore itself has its own paranormal TV programs, including Ghost Files Singapore (GFS), a paranormal investigating team and a reality web television series created by Noel Boyd that has been airing episodes since 2013. Also, one of the most popular book series here is True Singapore Ghost Stories. Author Russell Lee has been writing the books in this series since 1989. The interest in the paranormal is sky high in this town!
But back to ghosts and sanity.
Unless you have a break with reality where you cease to function normally (not eating or sleeping, etc.), I think it’s perfectly OK to believe in that ghosts are real – at least here in Singapore!
If hauntings or the idea of ghosts upsets you so much that your mental health is affected, of course you should consider getting some support from a health care professional.
But as I heard from an Irishman who lived in a haunted castle, “The spirits are always with us and there is nothing to be afraid of.”
I personally had an experience while staying in Bali for a month that was a little unsettling but not outright scary. I kept feeling a presence around me or a touch on my shoulder and when I would turn to look no one was there. Bali is a very spiritual place and the people there put out flower and food offerings to spirits and ghosts on a daily basis. So my friends there encouraged me to not be afraid because these entities do not mean any harm.
I had a similar experience at the Pearl Bank Apartments, an area of Singapore called Pearl Hill that is known to be haunted. I was actually with one of the girls I met in Bali so it was no surprise to me that we had attracted some ghostly interest while practicing yoga in one of the flats.
Closing out the month where ghosts roamed the streets of Singapura, we can all rest easy knowing that having the spirits around was not such a bad thing.
Superstitions aside, it’s nice to know the ones we love are still with us and we are never alone.
And here in Singapore you know for sure they can visit you at least once a year!
About Andrea McKenna
Andrea McKenna Brankin is journalist and author from the United States who lives a full life with bipolar disorder. Her book, Bipolar Phoenix, is awaiting a publishing contract. She is also currently a volunteer at the DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre for teen girls in Singapore, providing befriending-family support, therapeutic writing and rugby coaching.