Due to the nature of the month whereby spirits are allowed to roam freely, there are always a few things to keep in mind as passed down by the elders.
I would like to share on some of the precautions/advices I have heard of or read about on this month:
1. Stay out late at night. It is best to be home by sunset.
(The elders used to say that this is the time where the yin energy is at the strongest and most powerful, and that bad things could happen if you are not careful. Also, it is also another belief that the spirits could roam the streets freely to their content without being obstructed by human beings which is also another reason why some Chinese shops close down early during this month)
2. Travel on the road, by flight or by ship
It is advisable to postpone any major travel or vacation during this time to avoid any mishap or accident.
Of course, if you happen to be driving to work, you can't avoid that, but do be extra careful when you're driving as well.
3. Step on the praying paraphernalia or burning paper/food.
These are food and offerings to the spirits, and avoid stepping onto or kicking them away as this could offend the spirits.
After all, if it were you, would you like to have your food/gifts being stepped or kicked off? (reverse the situation)
4. Moving into new house or change new furniture/mattress (No housewarming or house parties as well)
This could inadvertently 'invite' some wandering spirits into your house as you are moving items and into a new unoccupied space which the spirits could deem as their own as well. Furthermore, they could hide from the guards to escape going back to their realm.
5. Curse and swear everywhere
You could incur a spirit's wrath if you happened to be in his path as it could be perceived as being disrespectful.
6. Getting married
Weddings during this month may not have a good ending, as believed, as there may be bad curses or hex placed by spirits on them. Furthermore, you would not want to have additional 'uninvited guests' crashing your party which you obviously did not plan for, do you?
7. Place your child on the offering altar when you are visiting the temples or the sites where the Guardian of Hungry Ghosts/Hell is located.
I have shared a story which my aunts have told me before on how a mother used to place her child on the offering altar while preparing her offerings and when she turned to check on her child, the child was already breathless.
Anything placed on the offering altar may be considered as an offering to the spirits and they will take it.
8. Paint your nails black
Much as you think it is funky to do so, refrain from doing so particularly during this month as only the dead have nails which turned black due to the halt in blood flow.
Black nails may lead the spirits to think that you are one of them and may lead you back to hell as well.
9. Whistle/Sing at night
For obvious reasons, you could be attracting the attention of the roaming spirits.
10. Swim or play in the sea/river
There are spirits who have drowned and there is a belief they may be out to take revenge or to find a substitute to take their place in death to allow for their reincarnation or to leave the place where their souls linger.
11. Sitting on the front rows or seats which are left vacant while the others are all occupied
This is especially when you watch the street performances such as opera or ko-tai, as some still follow the old tradition to reserve the first row of seats for the spirits as a form of respect.
In the older days, they do the same in the cinema; there is always a row of vacant seats which they reserve specially for the unseen.
If you are running late and you notice that there are empty seats in the front row, just stand by the side. It's better to stand than to offend any of the spirit.
12. Look underneath the altar table/offerings table when there is a prayer session
If you are unlucky, you may spot some unseen having their feast underneath the table and they don't like being disturbed.
1. Show respect to the praying and burning procedures taking place by the side of the streets or junctions. Do not mock or laugh at the people doing so or you could risk offending the unseen.
2. Pray for the spirits and also to God should you feel afraid
3. Refer to the spirits as the 'Good brothers' as the local folks do instead of ghosts to avoid hostility.
4. Listen to the advice of the elders. If they tell you what to do and not to do during this month, do not argue, just follow. The supernatural is not something to be messed with.
As long as you are careful and be mindful, this month will not be such a bad month for anyone as we just need to be respectful of the spiritual beings among us.