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Vietnamese Special Ritual Activities in Lunar July - The Month of Hungry Ghost

January 15, 2024 - 5318 views

The lunar calendar is strictly observed in Vietnam, whether it be out of joy or dread. The Hungry Ghosts' month is a time to honor and revere ancestors even if it is referred to as a holiday. Many people fear ill luck or attribute unfortunate events to malevolent lost spirits. If you happen to be in Vietnam during this time, you should be aware of this festival because it is believed to apply to everyone passing through. Look at our advice below.

What is the Hungry Ghost Month in Vietnam?

The Ghost Month or The Ghost Festival, also known as ‘Tet Trung Nguyen’ in Vietnam, is celebrated as a period for the liberation from the hell of damned souls. The "homeless" ought to be "nourished" and placated with food donations. The discharge of fish and fowl also results in rewards for the living. ‘Thang Co Hon’, or the month of lonely spirits, is the colloquial name for the lunar month during which the event is held. It is said to be haunted and particularly unfortunate.

Burn Joss Paper in the July Lunar month

Burn Joss Paper To Ensure That The Spirit Of The Deceased Has Sufficient Needs In The Afterlife

This celebration, which was influenced by Buddhism, falls on Vu Lan, which is Ullambana's Vietnamese equivalent.

Today, Mother's Day is also observed on Vu Lan. People who still have their moms around them bring red roses and express gratitude, while those who don't might opt to attend ceremonies to pray for the dead and carry white roses.

Pray And Release Sky Lanterns in Ghost Month

Pray And Release Sky Lanterns To Pray For The Soul Of Loved Ones To Be Saved


When is Vietnam Ghost Month? 

The seventh lunar month, which often falls at the end of August in the Gregorian calendar, is the ghost month in Vietnam. Another commemoration of the ghosts and souls of those who died in the collapse of the Hue Citadel in 1885 is held in Hue, although it is not regarded as a national holiday. Vietnamese culture holds that a person is made up of two components: the soul and the body. The spirit of the deceased lives on in the afterlife. The individual would be reborn into a saint or another person if they performed numerous good deeds. Otherwise, their souls would be sent to hell where they would suffer hunger and pain as punishment for their transgressions.

Because Pluto, the King of the Underworld regions, unlocks the portal between the two worlds, the ghosts of the deceased can travel freely during Vietnam's Ghost Month. This concept has given rise to several rituals and taboos across East Asia, including Vietnam.

Ghosts Paper in August ghost month

Ghosts Will Return To The Ground On July 2 And Return To The Underworld On The Night Of July 14 (Lunar Calendar) - August Ghost Month

The Gates of Hell are unlocked on the second day of the Vietnamese ghost month, allowing spirits to enter the present. From the gifts and prayers of their descendants, ancestors' spirits might be traced back to their place of origin. However, there are no offerings for lonely souls who have no living family members or who passed away without a proper funeral. When they are allowed to freely roam the living world, they fiercely curse bad luck upon strangers in a spiteful manner.


Offerings in Vietnam Ghost Month

From the fifteenth day of Vietnam ghost month until its conclusion, it's common practice to create a feast of expertly prepared cuisine. Vietnamese people, especially those running enterprises in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown, think that providing food to hungry ghosts may deter them from interfering with their operations.

Vietnamese households frequently make two feasts during the day on the day of the full moon during the ghost month in Vietnam. At noon, the ancestors' spirits get the first one. The second feast is frequently served to the hungry, roving spirits after dusk.

Rice porridge, sugarcane, confections, fruits (which often comprise a variety of fruits with five colors), and sweet potatoes make up the bulk of the food served at feasts. Along with the meal, there are also candles, salt, votive paper, three glasses of water, and three sticks of incense. Gruel porridge is essential since it's said that spirits have a small esophagus and can't digest tough foods. Following the completion of the gifts, salt and rice are thrown on the street and road to send the spirits on their way.

A Tray Of Offerings - what to do in Ghost month

A Tray Of Offerings To The Homeless And Hungry Soul


‘Giut Co Hon’ - Offerings Snatching of the Spirits

Wealthy families and certain major corporations, mainly in Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown, may offer significant gifts, such as the tiny change that adds up to millions of VND. As a result, some individuals and kids frequently assemble in areas where there are many donations in order to steal money and food. This is referred to as "Giut co hon" in Vietnamese.

Some of them participate because they can make a lot of money from it, while others do it for enjoyment and use the offerings. Some of them take this tradition very seriously. Additionally, company owners frequently think it is lucky when customers grab their products.

Children Do The Ritual 'Giut Co Hon’ in July ghost month

Children Do The Ritual 'Giut Co Hon’


Things not to do during Hungry Ghost Month

Every year, the Vietnamese worship hungry ghosts for a month because it does not have a fixed day. Many people believe that in ghost month, you should be vegetarian and chant the Buddha’s name, abstain from doing a list of things, such as:

  • Do not go out at night because the night is the time of the devil, so people should not go out this time to avoid trouble. 

Do Not Go Out At Night in August ghost month

Do Not Go Out At Night

  • Do not dry clothes at night because ghosts can "borrow" them to wear which makes you unlucky.
  • Do not call each other's names in the middle of the night because this action will make the ghost remember the name of that person and may haunt him/her.
  • Do not arbitrarily burn votives in the month of the ghost because this will attract more ghosts wandering around you and bother your life.
  • Do not stand near the banyan tree because the Vietnamese believe that the banyan is the plant of the soul, especially during this month. So humans should not stand there to avoid ghosts disturbing.

Banyan Tree - not to stand

Don't stand near the Banyan Tree

  • Do not hang wind chimes near your bed because the wind chimes will call hungry ghosts to your house and bother your sleep and your life.
  • Do not swim in the 7th month of the lunar calendar, especially in rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes because there are many hidden dangers, the ghost will pull your legs from under the water.
  • Do not eat a hungry ghost’s offering before having permission. From the beginning to the full moon day of lunar July (15th July), every family often spends 1-day worshipping hungry ghosts. If you eat their offering without permission, they will bring bad luck to you.
  • Do not cut your hair in the ghost month. Vietnamese said that: "one hair manages 3 demons", if it is cut in this month, the demons will bring a lot of bad luck to you.

Do Not Cut Your Hair In The Ghost Month

Do Not Cut Your Hair In The Ghost Month

  • Do not do important things during the month of the hungry ghosts, such as: signing business contracts, getting married, building a house, etc. In the case of force majeure, you need to choose the good day carefully.

However, the list above is based on human habit or psychological having a good meaning and remembrance to the dead. 

You may be concerned about Top 5 Creepy Places to Visit in Vietnam's Hungry Ghost Month

Vietnam Ghost Month synopsis

Any culture, including Vietnam's, holds the widespread concept that there is a spiritual presence after death. The country's rich history, diversified culture, and emphasis on commemorating the deceased are all reflected in the numerous intriguing rituals and superstitions that take place during Vietnam's Ghost Month.

To get a deeper understanding of the Vietnamese culture, history, as well as cuisine, see more detailed interests in our Top 10 Best Vietnam tour packages

find the best Vietnam tour here - Vietnamese Special Ritual Activities in Lunar July - The Month of Hungry Ghost

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