A Chinese Funeral 3

Throughout the funeral wake, prayers are held for the deceased. In Buddhist funeral, Buddhist monks will conduct the prayers. For those who are members of Buddhist temples, the relatives may invite the Temple members to perform the prayers as well. These members are usually dr essed in black robes and led by lay monks instead of Buddhist monks. In addition to this, the relatives may also invite a religious organisation “Siang Tong” 善堂  to chant the final prayer on the eve of the funeral. The prayer is to pray for a smooth journey to the nether world. The priest and his group will sing prayers asking for the protection and blessing of the Gods, sing praises of the deceased and ask for guidance for the deceased. Even the address of the deceased is mentioned!

The Priest saying their Sing Song prayer

Relatives of the deceased participating in the ritual

Crossing the bridge. This symbolise the journey of the deceased and the sending off by the relatives. Note the “back pack” on the back of one of the mourner. This is something that has caught up with the time. It the past, the mourner simply carry it in their hand. The mourners throw money into a basin when they cross the bridge. The money are meant to serve as bribe to other spirits so that they do not block the journey of the deceased.

After the 2 hours long session is over, all the paper peripheral that were used in the rituals and other offerings are burnt. Almost standard item is a paper mansion for the deceased to stay in. 

Together with the mansion is a maid and a manservant. After all, with a house so big, definitely need somebody to take care right?

The old meet the new. A car and a trishaw – part of the luxury that the deceased will enjoy in Heaven
Each relative also offer personal treasure chest to the deceased. The chest are typically filled with some paper clothings and joss paper. If all these can really be converted to something that can be used in the next life, the deceased appears to be richer dead than alive.

All these are burnt in a big bonfire while the priest continues to chant.

While the offering are burning, the mourners will beat on the floor with a bamboo stick and at the same time calling out to the deceased to stay in the big house and collect the offering. The beating of the stick is to scare away other spirits who may want to “take advantage”.