It’s the time of the Hungry Ghost festival! Not that I am into this sort of thing. But, stories of their mischief make the rounds annually during this festival and I cannot help wondering if there is any truth in them. The stories can be anything from lizards falling on you, butterflies fluttering in and out and food disappearing.
In the mythology, however, these ghosts can’t eat or if they do it would have adverse effects on them. So, I don’t know how food disappears and if there’s any point in offering food to appease them. I suspect people do all these things out of fear of the possibility rather than the truth of their reality.
I’ve one story on the hungry ghosts to tell, anyway. One day last year I was on my weekly exercise walk when I noticed I was the only one in the park. No other human being in sight. I wondered what was going on and I noticed a couple of people waving joss sticks over some food at altars by the grass verge of the road.
I passed by one man who went into his compound after paying his respects. He saw me doing my brisk walking. He smiled and said, cautiously, “Hungry Ghost festival!” I knew what he meant: Be careful.
I don’t know what came over me. Unperturbed, I replied, “Don’t worry, nothing will happen to me!” And, I went on walking and finished my regular eight rounds.
Ghosts and spirits may be around but praying to put a hedge around us from them keeps them in their world, never crossing into ours.