SINGAPORE — Tan, an accountant, was at a loss after she was retrenched together with all her colleagues in the department in end-July as her company had embarked on cost-cutting measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 49-year-old mother of two, who declined to reveal her full name, had worked at her company for over a decade. Following her retrenchment, Tan applied for several jobs but to no avail. Desperate for a change in fortunes, she spoke to her husband, who advised her to seek help from an unlikely source.
Tan engaged the services of “Ghostbuster: Fengshui Masters & Exorcists”, a company providing a range of Taoist services and products such as 八字 (“Ba Zi” or four pillars of destiny) consultation, geomancy, luck “enhancing” rituals, and “wish-granting” amulets. These can range from as low as $80 to as much as thousands of dollars.
“No harm trying...as long as it works in my favour,” quipped Tan, who is a Buddhist. Within about a week, she got several calls back from her job-seeking efforts and later managed to secure a job as an accountant again.
Because of her “success”, she has recommended Ghostbuster’s services to a friend, who was also retrenched recently.
Business has been brisk for the company with the pandemic having an “impact”, said a Ghostbuster spokesperson.
More customers, mostly in their 40s and above like Tan, have sought help in enhancing their luck and praying for job security during the pandemic, said the spokesperson. He estimated that the company is seeing up to a 20 per cent increase in such requests.
But when clients ask for protection from COVID-19 or pray for good health, the company would emphasise to them “the clear distinction between illness and spiritual obstruction". For any such requests, it would advise clients that health-related matters should best be left to doctors and other health professionals to handle.
Ghostbuster’s Master Chew Teck Fatt, 45, said more clients are turning to Taoist rituals to cope with the challenges of the pandemic.
“I think that in such trying times, religion can serve as a pillar of strength and support as we all try to discover and realise our competitive advantage in an ever-changing world,” said Master Chew.
His father, Grand Master Chew Hon Chin, opened “Ghostbuster: Fengshui Masters & Exorcists” in Katong Shopping Centre 16 years ago.
In October, the Chews opened a "subsidiary shop" on the second floor of the mall, just above the company’s original space.
The 300-odd sq ft shop – decked with 14 yellow flags flanking each side representing 28 constellations in the sky – is dedicated to performing a Taoist blessing ritual of worshipping the dipper stars called “Bai Dou" (拜斗).
During the 30-minute ritual, a six-sided vessel – containing the name and birth chart of the client – is blessed by the masters who would burn a paper with the client’s written requests into an incense urn.
Devotees fork out between hundreds and thousands of dollars for the service, depending on the type of blessings requested, such as enhancing one’s wealth, health, or relationship.
“Bai Dou” can only be conducted on auspicious dates with the frequency of services averaging about eight times per week.
The spokesperson said the company is fully booked for the rituals till the end of this year.
Siow, who only wants to be known by his surname, one of Ghostbuster’s long-time customers, had participated in one such ritual.
The 32-year-old insurance manager said, “Every time we do something, things improved. Knowing this year’s economy is not really that great, (I) definitely want things to pick up.” He revealed that he has spent less than $5,000 on the service.
Feng, who also went for a “Bai Dou” blessing, said he was recommended to Ghostbuster’s services by friends about a year ago.
The 45-year-old retail supervisor, who declined to give his full name, said he first consulted Ghostbuster after losing a job in the food and beverage industry after Chinese New Year. According to Feng, he got his current job within a month from the date of the consultation.
“I am open to all, anything that works or helps,” said the free-thinker.
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