Ghost Month, a tradition deeply rooted in Asian cultures, is a time when the gates of the afterlife are believed to swing open, allowing spirits to wander our realm freely.
With the increasing popularity of running, an intersection arises: How do these cultural practices affect our daily jogs, especially when they converge with superstition and ancient traditions?
This year, the Hungry Ghost Festival stretches across the entire 7th lunar month, kicking off on 16 August 2023 and drawing its curtains on 14 September 2023.
Lace up and journey with us as we navigate the unique terrain of running during Ghost Month.
Table of Contents
Understanding Ghost Month
The Hungry Ghost Festival or Ghost Month has origins in various Asian traditions, from Chinese to Thai cultures. It’s a time for honouring ancestors and pacifying wandering spirits.
The seventh lunar month, especially in 2023, bears immense importance, as some believe it to be a particularly powerful year due to specific astrological alignments.
General Taboos for Running During Ghost Month
During this month, certain activities are advised against: big celebrations, night-time wanderings, and more. The atmosphere is charged, they say, with both benevolent and malevolent energies.
Taboos Specifically for Runners
- Avoid Running at Night: As the belief goes, spirits are more active after dusk. Running during Ghost Month at these hours might not only be a cultural taboo but could also leave one feeling eerily unsettled. Maybe it’s the silence, the science behind our primal fears, or perhaps, just perhaps, there’s more to our world than meets the eye.
- Steer Clear of Cemeteries and Known Haunted Areas: While it might sound evident, some running trails or parks may be situated near these spiritually sensitive areas. Whether during Ghost Month or any other time, many cultures hold the belief that spirits of the departed linger near their resting places. Ensure you’re familiar with the history of the Singapore running parks you frequent and try to avoid those with a reputation for paranormal activity, especially during this period.
- Avoid Running Near Temples or Ancestral Shrines: These spiritual hotspots teem with activity during Ghost Month. Running close might disturb the balance and show disrespect, not to mention the uncanny feelings one might experience.
- Avoid Running in Woods or Desolate Places: There’s a myth, or perhaps a warning, that spirits reside in secluded areas. Even if you’ve mastered how to jog properly, it might be wise to stick to well-trodden paths during this month.
- Avoid Wearing Red While Running: Red is often considered a colour that attracts spirits. Wearing it might make you more noticeable to them, and it’s said they might follow you back home.
- Refrain from Calling Out to Fellow Runners by Name: There’s a belief that spirits are always listening. If you call out someone’s name, a spirit might take note and use it maliciously against the person.
- Avoid Whistling or Singing During Night Runs: Engaging in these activities is thought to attract curious spirits. Such melodies might be perceived as an invitation to nearby unseen entities.
- Avoid Stopping Suddenly or Looking Back: Especially if you feel a sudden chill or think you’ve heard an unusual noise. The act of looking back might be seen as acknowledging the presence of a spirit, giving it more power or encouragement to interact with you.
- Nature Calls with Caution: Never urinate on trees during your run. It’s believed that spirits reside in trees, especially old and large ones. Urinating on them is considered highly disrespectful to the spirits.
- Stick to Your Path: While running, always avoid stepping on or kicking burned ash or any offerings placed by the roadside. These are meant for the spirits, and disturbing them can be seen as disrespectful and might bring misfortune.
- Beware of Unexpected Spills: Accidentally spitting on or near offerings, even unintentionally, can be taken as a sign of disrespect. Always be mindful of your surroundings, especially when you feel the need to spit out water or saliva.
- Keep Personal Commentaries to Yourself: Even if you’re skeptical, avoid making jokes or dismissive comments about the offerings or rituals you come across. It’s always best to respect local customs and beliefs.
- Tread Lightly Near Water: Bodies of water are considered yin places, or spots where spirits might gather. If your route takes you past ponds, lakes, or rivers, be respectful and avoid making loud noises.
- Never Respond to Phantom Name Calls at Night: If you think you hear someone calling your name during a nighttime run, resist the urge to respond. It’s believed that spirits might be trying to lure you.
- Depart Promptly If You Detect a Floral Fragrance: Encountering a sudden, unexpected scent of flowers, especially jasmine or frangipani, is considered an indication that spirits are present. If you come across such an aroma while running, it’s advisable to leave the area quickly.
Incorporating a blend of tradition and modern-day fitness can be a delicate balancing act. While many urban runners might find these taboos outdated, it’s essential to be aware, especially if you’re running in areas where these beliefs are deeply rooted. It’s always wise to respect the culture of the place you’re in.
Safe Practices for Running During Ghost Month
- Run During Daylight: Make the most of the daylight hours for your runs. Not only is this practice spiritually safer according to traditional beliefs, but it’s also practically safer for visibility and avoiding potential hazards.
- Carry Protective Amulets or Charms: Many cultures believe in the power of amulets or protective charms to ward off negative energies. Check with local traditions and consider wearing or carrying one during your runs. They can range from religious tokens to simple objects imbued with protective intentions.
- Respecting Beliefs: Even if the supernatural isn’t your cup of tea, respecting these practices can also mean avoiding unexpected trips or falls – like missing a step during stairs climbing due to low light.
- Group Running: There’s strength in numbers. Running with a group or a buddy can serve as a deterrent for any unwanted spiritual attention. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to boost morale and motivation.
- Stay on Familiar Paths: Ghost Month might not be the best time to explore unknown trails or secluded areas. Stick to familiar, well-travelled paths where the energy is more likely to be neutral or positive.
- Begin with Positive Intent: Before starting your run, take a moment to set a positive intention or even say a short protective prayer. This act can be likened to a mental warm-up, creating a protective shield around you, much like physical warm-ups prevent injuries.
The Ghost Month can be an intriguing blend of tradition, spirituality, and modern practices. While observing these practices, don’t forget the basics of running technique, staying mindful of one’s Asian BMI, and considering other fitness alternatives, like Yoga, during this period.
By respecting the traditions and ensuring personal safety, one can maintain their fitness routine without ruffling any supernatural feathers.
The Intersection of Culture and Sport
Running is universal, but how we run, where we run, and when we run can be deeply influenced by cultural beliefs. Ghost Month provides a fascinating lens to view this intersection, offering a rich tapestry of history, belief, and modern-day practice.
Running during Ghost Month 2023, particularly, becomes not just about fitness but about navigating the rich tapestry of tradition and modernity.
Embracing Tradition in Every Stride
Ghost Month is a vivid reminder of how cultural practices can touch every aspect of our lives, even our fitness routines.
As we gear up for our runs, it’s worth pondering: Is it just the wind that rustles the leaves as you jog? Or is someone, from another realm, cheering you on?
Either way, the balance between tradition and routine during Ghost Month 2023 can be a spiritually enriching experience, even for the most secular among us. So, lace up, choose your path wisely, and embrace the run!
Why is running during Ghost Month frowned upon?
During Ghost Month, many believe that spirits roam the earth, and running, especially at night, may unintentionally disturb or offend them.
Can I run in the morning during Ghost Month?
Morning runs are generally deemed safer since spirits are believed to be less active during daylight hours.
What places should I avoid when running during Ghost Month?
Stay clear of cemeteries, haunted locations, and isolated running parks, especially during the evening.
Is it bad luck to run during Ghost Month?
While health-wise there’s no difference, culturally, some believe that disturbing spirits might attract misfortune.
Are there protective measures for runners during Ghost Month?
Wearing protective amulets, avoiding wearing all-black, and keeping runs short and within well-lit areas are common protective measures.
How can I show respect when running during Ghost Month?
Stick to familiar routes, avoid noisy disruptions, and if participating in running events, consider starting with a moment of silence or offering to honour the spirits.