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3 Thrilling Vietnamese Games To Play During The Month Of Ghosts

Small trays of colorful cakes are popular offerings for superstitious Buddhists during the Month of Ghosts. But Vietnamese children have a number of other ways to make contact with spirits, including games.

Here are 3 games that will get you closer to the ghosts that appear in the 7th month of the lunar calendar.

Cầu Cơ – Vietnamese Ouija

Popular among Vietnamese students, especially when camping, this game is for those who wish to have hair-raising encounters with the otherworldly beings.

A piece of wood from an old coffin (which is usually requested from a graveyard keeper) is used as an Ouija board on which the 29 letters of the Vietnamese alphabet are written along with diacritical marks and the numbers 0 through 9.

Graveyards or darkly lit places are usually the desired playground for this undertaking.

First, offerings are laid out along with three sticks of burning incense - if you want to contact spirits, you should do so with respect, right? Then a coin is positioned in the middle of the board (pictured above) on which player place a finger. Finally, the read aloud the following poem:

Hồn Ai Ở Chốn Non Bồng
Qua Đây Hồn Cũng Vui Lòng Ghé Chơi
Hồn Ai Bay Bổng Khắp Nơi
Nghe Lời Cầu Khấn Hồn Mau Trở Về

If you follow all of these steps, you should feel the coin move, meaning “someone” has arrived.

The spirit communicates by guiding the coin to different letters and numbers on the board. When you you’re properly scared, say “stop” and the coin will move to the word “leave” and the game ends.

Vietnamese students even use the ghosts to help cheat on their exams by asking them the answer to upcoming questions (seems odd that they would know the questions beforehand), but none of these cheats end up with good marks anyway (karma!).


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The Story Of Saigon’s "Graveyard Of Traitors"


Ma Lon

“Ma lon”, (the ghost can), is a version of Ouija but in this game, instead of chasing after spirits, the spirits chase you.

There’s little setup required from Ma Lon - all that’s needed is an empty can, incense and a cigarette.  First, light the cigarette. When it’s burning drag-by-drag as if someone is smoking it, that’s a sign that you have successfully summoned a spirit. The incense acts as a timer for the game, when it’s burned out, it’s over.

During the game, the ghost will chase you and try to hit your ankles so you’d better run fast. There is only one rule for this game – run straight, as making a turn will end the spirit’s presence.

Like Cầu cơ, this game should be played in a deserted place late at night.

This is a very popular game for children in the countryside and they are said to be ideal players because the transcendent players would often be the manifestation of youngsters who have passed on and are excited when summoned by their living peers.

Khiêng Xác

Another game to play with ghosts is called “Khiêng xác” (“carrying the corpse”), where 8 people pretend to be at a funeral ceremony. One will play the corpse (laying motionless on the ground) and one the leader (standing where the “corpse” lays their head), while the six others take their places around the body, as if they are about to lift a coffin.

The leader asks: “Where are you going?”

The others answer: “We are heading to the graveyard.”

“So, let’s go together,” says the leader.

Then the group tries to lift the corpse, using only their 7 index fingers.

During the lifting process, the players are not allowed to make jokes, or even chuckle as anyone not taking the game seriously would cause the body to immediately fall. It is said that the person playing the corpse is unconscious the entire time because a spirit has possessed their body.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, these games show the boundless imagination on Vietnamese youth.

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