Remember the days of our youth, when we would innocently stick pens into electrical power sockets to see if they fit, only to have our mum dash in, screaming and flailing as she snatched the pen away and dragged us off by the ear? That was my childhood, at least. But as it turns out, that was one of the least dangerous things I did as a kid.

Apparently, many of the fun games we played as children were tempting fate, in the sense that we were running the risk of offending passerbys from another dimension. In other words, we were pissing off otherwordly spirits with our seemingly harmless games. Here are five amusing things that could have brought the wrath of the underworld upon our heads. If you’ve done any of this and you’re still alive, congratulations. The spirits ignored you.

Your children, however, might not be so lucky.

1. Ringing the gong on altars

A sacred relic. Credit: YouTube

A sacred relic. Credit: YouTube

Most Buddhist altars have a gong on them, where you strike it at the end of the prayers. The first time my friends and I heard it, we were so excited to ring it. So when my grandmother went to the loo, we grabbed the soft pestle and kept hitting the gong, excited at the booming sounds that came forth.

Of course, you can imagine the number of cane marks on our legs after that. As children, we rarely understand the significance of religious paraphernalia. It’s tremendously disrespectful to play with the items used to worship deities, and in some cases it’s even grounds for being condemned to pain and suffering.

Still, we survived – and I’m betting a good number of you rang the gong secretly when nobody was around!

2. Pointing at the Moon

That's one hairy hand. Credit: Conscious Bridge

That’s one hairy hand. Credit: Conscious Bridge

We were always warned not to point at the Moon, since doing so would result in mysterious cuts on the ear the next morning. And for children, one surefire way to get them to do something is to tell them not to do it (so maybe you can tell your kids not to do their homework as a form of reverse psychology). Many of us ended up secretly pointing at the Moon, and our ears are still attached to our heads, completely unharmed.

Its roots are shrouded in mystery, but the number of anecdotal cases where people have gotten cuts after pointing at the Moon is too large to ignore. Why play with fire? Keep your fingers to yourself, and leave the moon-pointing to Sailor Moon and company.

3. Saying “die” during Chinese New Year

That "fu" should be upside down. Credit:

That “fu” should be upside down. Credit:

For the Chinese, what you do during Chinese New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year. Hence the need to say auspicious phrases and the banning of anything unlucky during that period. If you say anything close to the word “die” during Chinese New Year, you can be certain that an auntie will slap your mouth. But as kids, our favourite phrase was “go and die!” With Chinese New Year visitations (and so many kids in proximity), how is it possible not to hear or utter that phrase at some point?

Thankfully, we didn’t fall prey to that word for the rest of the year.

4. Not finishing your rice

Not ricing to the occasion, that's for sure. Credit: A Malaysian in France

Not ricing to the occasion, that’s for sure. Credit: A Malaysian in France

This is a terribly superficial superstition about your future spouse. The belief goes that you must finish every grain of rice on your plate, for each unfinished grain represents one pock mark on your future spouse’s face. In other words, finish your food if you want a pretty wife or handsome husband. While this isn’t life-threatening in any way, aren’t you glad that your current/future spouse’s looks aren’t dictated by your childhood eating habits?

Also, what about Western countries, where they don’t eat rice? Does this mean they have perfect complexions?

5. Playing with the dish spirit

Dishing it out. Credit: Asia Paranormal

Dishing it out. Credit: Asia Paranormal

The 碟仙 (die xian) is Chinese for “dish spirit” and it works very much like the Chinese version of the Ouija board. Grab a saucer (the kind where you put soya sauce or chilli sauce) and a piece of paper with basic Chinese words on it. You need yourself and at least one other friend to put their finger on the overturned saucer. After that, invite a spirit to inhabit the dish, and you can ask any question you want of the spirit (although, like with human beings, there is no guarantee a spirit will be truthful) and the saucer will move by itself to the answer.

The danger comes when you need to dismiss the spirit. Spirits aren’t like Uber drivers – you don’t call or drop them at a whim. Improper dismissal can lead to disastrous consequences, like a possession or even a haunting. At best, you can’t use that saucer anymore for soya sauce.

The fact that we thought the dish moving by itself was cute when we were young is kind of creepy now, isn’t it?

Ouija: Origin of Evil. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Ouija: Origin of Evil. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

What about Western superstitions, like the Ouija board? We find out just how disastrous it can get in Ouija: Origin of Evil, where several foolish teens summon a spirit to answer silly questions, only to find out that such power should not be meddled with. Will the token minority character survive? Will we see a girl walk into a dark room by herself? Will we see someone get stabbed by the Ouija pointer?

Can’t give away everything now, can we? Catch Ouija: Origin of Evil to find out!

PS: How do you pronounce “ouija” anyway? I’ve heard “wee jee”, “wee ja”, and “wee ya”.


Credits: Asia Paranormal, Conscious Bridge,, A Malaysian in France, YouTube, Golden Village Cinemas