Ghost-ridding ceremony performed at Post

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 12:00am

Updated at 6.11pm:
The South China Morning Post called in Buddhist monks on Tuesday afternoon to exorcise ghosts said to be haunting the paper's new offices.

Two monks from the Hong Kong Bodhi Siksa Society set up an altar of a goddess in the lobby in order to cleanse the office of the ghosts, reported to be inhabiting the women's bathroom.

Post management bowed to the goddess and paid their respects by making offerings and burning incense.

Then the monks began a prayer and proceeded to tour the office, chanting and splashing water from a cup with a pomelo leaf, known to drive away bad luck.

''The prayer's purpose is to cast away the powers of the spirit and cleanse the office,'' said monk Yiliu.

''This kind of ceremony is very common, about 14 to 18 cases a year, as many offices have experienced similar instances of haunting in the past,'' reverend Sik Wing-sing added.

When asked as to whether they felt any strange presence during the ceremony, especially when they went into the women's toilet, the monks said that they felt a strong pressure.

The described what they sensed in the toilet as very strong ''yin''[the feminine principle in Buddhist theology].

''There was simply an absence of life in that room, like a vacuum,'' said monk Bingxi.

According to Reverend Sik Wing-sing, the effectiveness of the ceremony depends on whether the spirit has served enough time for its sins and wishes now to leave.

''In a way fate is at play here because the spirit wishes to rest in peace and so has called out for help by making it's presence known,'' he said.

If the ceremony works, the reverend explained, the spirits will leave and then wait for reincarnation.

''Now we have to see how our luck is, if this doesn't work we may have to come again,''he added.

The spectre has hung over staff, ever since the company moved to Taikoo Place's, Somerset House a month ago. Some women at the Post have been going to the lavatory in pairs after the Food Editor Susan Jung heard a voice calling her name in English while she was washing her hands on March 8 - but no one was there.

''I just thought that it was really weird,'' said Susan Jung, who is from Monterey Park, California.