Hope you’ve been staying at home, or at least not stayed out too late, to keep safe from all the spooky, unexplained happenings of the Hungry Ghost Festival. Much like Halloween, it is meant to be a time in which it is believed that the invisible gates between the living and the dead are flung open for spirits to wander around as they please.

Although the month and festival is almost at its end, there are still some things we can learn from these traditional practices of old, by bringing forward these practices with a little environmental twist that we can use in our everyday lives as part of a #betternormal.

  • Don’t stab chopsticks in your bowl of food. Placing your chopsticks vertically represents incense for the dead. So do keep your chopsticks properly in place and while you’re at it, ditch those disposable ones for reusables! And we don’t only mean chopsticks.
  • Don’t take the last bus or train ride. We’ve all heard Malaysian horror tales of late night travels whether when we’re travelling along lonely highways or in empty train stations. So of course one of the cultural practices is to avoid commuting too late in the night during this month. But apart from that, remember that using public transport is still far better for the environment than individual cars or vehicles. So do take public transportation when you can. You just need to manage your time well!
  • Don’t work overnight or stay out too late. The human body is at its weakest when we exert ourselves whether it’s doing late hours for work or spending way too much time outside. So don’t overwork yourself and remember to allow yourself some mental health breaks to keep your sanity, especially during the pandemic. Make sure to give your body, mind and soul enough rest. We have a long road of health, economic and environmental recovery ahead. And you don’t really wanna get climate fatigue among other things, do you?
  • Don’t put your hand on someone’s shoulder. This cultural practice sure does come in handy during the pandemic. Physical or social distancing is probably one of the most used terms since the pandemic began. It is so important for everyone to keep their distance and practice personal space in these scary times. So keep your distance! Physically that is.
  • Don’t shave your legs. This practice must be a nightmare for some of us who enjoy a clean shaven pair of legs but some say, it is a tradition not to shave our legs during the Hungry Ghost Month. But hey, we are in the middle of a pandemic anyways so who’s gonna notice? This is a great opportunity to use less razors. Moreover, isn’t it about time we switch to reusable razors after this month or better yet, be free and ditch shaving altogether 😉
  • Postpone your travel plans. Avoid travelling during this time to prevent any disturbances caused by mischievous spirits. You are probably thinking “we’re in a pandemic, we’re not going anywhere anyway”, which is sad but totally true. But let’s remember that even after travel restrictions are lifted, it would be good to reduce air travel, especially for short trips locally, because of its high carbon emissions. Try travelling by train more or opt for a cuti-cuti Malaysia and explore the wonders we have in our home country.