A Wrong Ritual At A Wrong Time

Here is a story about cause-and-effect. It coherently supports the other theory of how man wouldn’t be haunted for no reason. But this time it is about a place, our bungalow house in Australia.

After we migrated to Australia, we stayed with our grandparents and therefore we bought a land and built a new bungalow on top of it. I still remember how mum happily chose her favorite Irish design, and we saw the builders built it up from ground zero. The house was fine and we were all happy with it.

Unfortunately, some years later, my grandfather became very sick, hospitalized for about half a year and finally passed away. We were all very sad, especially my grandmother. So by following a Chinese tradition, we decided to hold a ritual to summon my grandfather’s soul within the forty-nine days after he died.

Such ritual is very common among Chinese communities all over the world, especially for the Buddhists. The idea is through some chanting, we invite the soul of the deceased to pay a final visit to his beloved family before he goes on to the other realm forever. This logic is based on a mix of human sentiment and Buddhism beliefs. The human soul would have eventually part this physical world. But before he embarks on his journey, the King of Hell would allow his soul to visit his family just one more time for a certain period of time, usually just a few hours in a night.

Usually during his final visit, the family members would act pleasant and well in order to show the deceased that there is nothing for him to worry about. Hence he can cheerfully concentrate on his journey to the other world. Also, during the certain hours of his visit, they would prepare some food and drink, in addition to burning paper-offering and joss-sticks to the deceased who once liked.

For my grandfather’s ritual, we similarly would prepare the food and other stuff according to the Buddhist religion, and we had to calculate the time when his soul will come back (if he ever will come back).

In Australia, my grandmother didn’t have the contact of a proper spiritual medium that would be able to do the calculation of when my grandfather’s soul will come back. There is a formula for this by considering both the birth date/hour and the date/hour of when he died. My grandmother had to call up a spiritual medium that she knew in Hong Kong (HK) for this task.

A while later my grandmother obtained the predicted date and time which my grandfather’s soul would return for a last visit. But here is the mistake that we made. We didn’t take into consideration of the time difference between HK and Australia! Melbourne is three hours behind HK. So the birth date and hour was in HK time, but the death date and hour was of Australia time! That means the calculation had gone wrong!

With the wrong date and time given which we didn’t know, we carried on the ritual as planned. Chanting and summoning for spirits had performed on that night. After that we pretended to be sleeping on bed, but our hearts were thumping fast, wondering if grandpa had come and enjoyed the food that we prepared for him. On the next morning, we jumped out of bed and ran to see the table placed in front of the altar, examining whether the food had been touched.

Surprisingly we found the peanut shells were cracked, both the tea and the rice-wine had been consumed. Other food like chicken and fish remained intact, but we did not expect they would be eaten off physically. We were once glad that grandpa showed signs of enjoying our food because the levels of the tea and wine dropped in the cups.

But wait a minute. Something was not right. As we all know grandpa loves wine, yes; but he didn’t drink tea. He died of stomach ulcers so he had dropped the habit of eating peanuts for very long.


Since that night of ritual, more and more horrible incidents happened that could not be explained. For instance, in one evening, while my mother was having a shower she heard doors banging loud and children laughing. She thought that was me and my sisters playing as we always fight in the house between brother and sisters. When she came out of the shower room, she called our names. Nobody responded. Fear arose widely in her heart as she continued to search for us room by room, but she found no one. She then called me and I told her that we had left the house long ago while she was still napping in the afternoon. You can imagine how afraid she was!

There was another remarkable haunted experience by my aunty who is my mother’s sister that just came to help out with my grandfather funeral thing. One night my aunty returned home alone while the rest of the family was out with some program. She saw a child in a form of a dark shadow when she was opening the front door. At the moment when the door is pushed open and my auntie’s hand was still holding the door knob, that ‘figure’ squatted down and dashed into the house under my auntie’s arm. It then blended into the darkness inside the house.

These incidents plus the other milder ones like things would have moved by themselves, shadowy figures were sighted here and there, bumping into cold spot, scared everybody to maximum. We have mistakenly invited other spirits in our house through the ritual performed at the wrong time.

Soon we sold the house though it was only a few years old.

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