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VietNamNews

Beware the hungry ghosts

Update: August, 05/2014 - 10:41

If not handled properly, this month, the seventh on the lunar calendar, can create much fear in the hearts of the living, preventing some from even being able to carry out their daily tasks.

Vietnamese believe that the month can produce bad luck and attract the curses of wandering lost souls - or, in other words, ghosts. We believe that during the first half of the month, the Gates of Hell are open and the ghosts from the lower realm can roam free on Earth.

Ancestors and other relatives from the past can find their way back to visit living descendants. Other lost souls who have no homes and are offered no prayers, will wander around, lost, lonely and bitter. Many are said to have died in tragic or lonely circumstances and are hungry for attention, thus the term hungry ghosts.

The remedy, or more accurately, duty of families is to remember ancestors and relatives and to pray for the wandering souls of all those disconnected from their families.

To play safe, many Vietnamese slow down during the first half of the month for fear of bumping into or otherwise interfering with the wandering of these lot souls.

Some people close their businesses for two weeks, especially shops that sell baby clothes and wedding gear. An owner of one shop selling baby clothes in Hai Ba Trung Street said she monitored the buying trends at this time of year and noted that custom fell off sharply.

Many stockmarket investors avoid transactions during this period and car showrooms and property establishments say there is much less business. One newspaper ran a story claiming that during the monthly of Lunar July in 2012 and 2013, the VN-Index did experience major losses.

An expert in feng shui (wind-water), the Chinese art of geomancy or harmonisation with the environment, said in the old days, the month was considered inauspicious for building new houses, moving into a new home or organising a wedding.

Some people even avoid getting into arguments or fights or even travelling during this time of year. But remembering ancestors and relatives and praying for the hungry ghosts has an upside.

For those who faithfully observe the custom, they can withdraw from the world of materialism and mayhem and find a little peace - even for just a little while.

Emergencies put on hold

The number you dial does not exist." That's what one gets when dialling the emergency number 114 in Dak Lak Province. Double-one-four is supposedly a free number for reporting fires and other emergencies.

Last week, a fierce fire broke out in Buon Me Thuot City in Dak Lak Province, destroying 13 houses and causing damage worth more than VND12.4 billion.

At a press conference to assess the situation after the fire, an official from Dak Lak Police Department said witnesses complained they could not dial the 114 number. All they got were the words: "The number you dial does not exist."

Does that mean emergency services do not exist? The locals could not pass on the news about the blaze and had to drive at high speed to report the situation to firefighters. Meanwhile, the fire kept spreading.

Dak Lak Police Department is checking on why the 114 number in the province does not work. It's crazy to realise that in an emergency, there is no one to rely on. Help!

Don't judge a phone by its cover

In April, Nguyen Hong Ngoc from Ha Noi's Cau Giay District, saw an on-line advertisement for a bargain Smartphone at a "very affordable" VND1.8 million (US$85).

Full of excitement, she ordered one and arranged to collect it at My Dinh Station. She handed over the money to a young man and received an object wrapped so carefully that it took time to open.

However, Ngoc's sixth sense told her that there was something wrong and then noticed the seller preparing to move off. Ngoc decided to follow her instincts and handed the parcel back, managing to grab the money at the same time.

She then quietly followed the seller and reported his address to Nam Tu Liem District Police. Police checked and found that the package contained nothing but peanut toffee-slabs, slices of brick and sand - not much use for making phone calls.

Late last month, Dinh Cong Tuan Anh, 20, and another man, Vo Van Manh, 24, both from Ba Vi District, were arrested. They admitted that they had earned VND60 million ($2,850) through nine successful transactions.

Nice work if you succeed! — VNS

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