Heaven and hell

No, this is not a religous post, so don’t run away. Hahahaha.

Yesterday evening, we joined our older kids’ secondary school for a [tag]Heritage[/tag] Walk to raise funds to repair their St. Xavier Institution. We walked through the older parts of the island and along the way, I shot some of these photos.

The Hungry [tag]Ghost[/tag] Festival is in full blast now and every corner you turn, you are bound to bump into makeshift altars like these. When passing by places like these, we were taught to pay a respect by putting our hands together and pray. (of course, not applicable to faiths who don’t do this, including the current me) Pregnant women and small babies are usually advised not to go near places like these because their ‘immunity’ are lower. What you see hanging up there are gold papers, denoting gold ingots. Very painstakingly folded. Beautiful, isn’t it?

At the far end, you can see a concert going on. In the foreground, are foods donated by the community. The foods are placed there to feed the supposedly hungry ghosts first. All these foods will later be distributed to the poor when the festival is over. This is where all the [tag]souls[/tag] or [tag]spirits[/tag] are gathering. The concert is to entertain ‘them’. We call ‘them’ ho hia tee or good brothers. There is one story which I am not sure if everyone have heard of. Once, there was this woman with a small baby. So, she went to a place like this to help out. As she has to sweep the floor, she left her small baby on the red table. Then, she went about to do the chores, clearing up the place etc. When she was finished, she returned to found that her baby is dead. According to [tag]folklore[/tag] (this is more of an urban myth, ok?), the good brothers mistaken the baby for an offering and took the baby’s life.

When we were small, and practising [tag]Taoism[/tag], we don’t have [tag]religious[/tag] books to follow. So, most of what was told to us were illustrated through all these effigiies. In some temples. there are gory looking statues of fierce looking god like the above. Some of them step on some poor looking souls. My mom would told me, “If you tell lies, you will get your tongue cut off like those statues.” Other things are – if one commit adultery, the adulterous couple will be fried in burning oil, gambling or stealing will cause the hand to be chopped off and etc. The above paper effigy is the god of[tag] hades[/tag], who takes care of all those whom had been sent to hell. Notice that there is Kuan Yin above him? Well, in Taoism, there are many levels of authority.

This old man in yellow robe is the ‘poh tiau pek’ whom is like the Chinese version of St. Peter stationed at the gate of hell. There are mediums (normal man) whom can go into trance as him. Usually, if a person is sick, they will seek the medium in this form. Of course, the real medium don’t have tongue sticking out like this. But they will check if the person is dying or how the person can be saved. If you observe, outside hospitals main entrances, you can find some families, burning offerings in the evenings. These families are actually praying that their relatives in the hospital can be saved from being summoned by the ‘bull’s horn god’ another, type of god whom is believed to come drag your soul to the next level. We call the bull’s horn god, Gu moh ong (some bull’s king).

Of all these altars, there is one altar which is the highest level, meant for the heavenly [tag]god[/tag] or Thnee Kong. And for Thnee Kong, there is no effigy to represent this heavenly god because he is the unseen god accorded the highest respect. So, if you look closely, no doubt that the practice here has a lot of statues and rituals, people are praying for their passage to heaven and hell. It keeps them on the straight and narrow path.
And where exactly I am getting to? I am just plain tired of looking at all those debates and wars about the differences in our respective religions. God (however you perceive Him) would have been very pleased to see all His creations stop fidgeting and fighting and just behave. Condemning another [tag]faith[/tag] is not going to give you a ticket to heaven. Being able to live cohesively in a world with others’ differences may prevent us from getting to hell. ‘Cos you if can’t live peacefully here on earth, God may sent you to hell to live with all those buggers and learn your lesson there. Muahahar…

As I said, this is not a religious post.

15 thoughts on “Heaven and hell

  1. My relatives in Ipoh has a business selling paper paraphernalia and statues of “Gods” but I never learned so much from them like I learned from you via this post, muahahaha =)

  2. Damn, looks like I m going to hell with all the politicians/ billionaires!! dun mind hell, juz can’t stand those politicians !
    Lilian, put in a few good words 4 me so that I may get redemption. I went to church onli for the free sweets and I went to temple onli for the ‘char mee hun’. I was a poor boy, ok!!

  3. ks – No lah, where got. Only the tablet we hang in our house which must be 4 feet 8 inches high from the ground. Hehehe.

    David – LOL, the thought of you being with the politicians for eternity will keep you on your toes, so behave well.

    nyonyapenang – Agree.

    pelf – Hahaha, I got a lot more to tell, next time.

  4. That’s one of the reason, I embraced the Buddist’s philosophy (not the religion though, if any)
    Just look at the war right now between Israel & Hizbollah. Both claiming to rights to exist(usually in the name of their religion, which has absolutely nothing to do with it, of course) Yet, the daily killing of innocent people who happens to be in that area suffers the most. Religion is not the cause of war, IDIOTS are the cause of all war.

    Like Pelf, thanks for enlighting my Taoist knowledge. Now I know a little more than a few minutes ago.

  5. hi lilian, very educating post! just asking hor…one of my friends said that apparently hungry ghost month will last for 2 months. true meh?

  6. I try to avoid HGF area cos I have very ‘sweet blood’ and somewhat every few years during HGF…I will kena terok… at one time I was in ICU for 2 weeks with High fever till I was transferred to CDC for SARS.

    So I always now play safe… like what my late lao-ma do… cook some pulut kuning+some food and put them outside… let them eat. Then tell’em go play far far away.. esp when my 6,7,8,9th sense makes me fimbly *(Not the Fimble feeling OK!) …cos sometimes.. they either come to me in daytime or in my dreams… and Darn..it’s scary when they appear. Cos U dunno when U in real life or in multi-dimension.

  7. Angeline – ya, they say they are fiercest before the 15th. LOL.

    ahpek – tenkiu

    azrin – are you for real? LOL, you got the third eye?

    vonzie – Yeah, there is a leap year, whereby two seventh month in a year. But no lah, the hungry ghosts only get one holiday. Hahaha. For leap year like these, the daughters normally buy their moms cloths or gold (depending on budget) for long life wor.

    kc – Ya, all sesat already. And they are actually referring to the same God, duh.

  8. wow lilian, such educating post, LOVE IT! I’m a Taoist but I dont know much bout the details 🙁 my family ask me to pray i pray haha.. to be on the safe side ma.. must always listen to the old folks when it comes to things like this 🙂

    and hey, my grandma told me the exact same story just like yours too! (bout the woman who put the baby on the table)

  9. Now Chinese turn the festival into community and charity events. Some sort of 3 in 1. 🙂

    And to protect your precious lens, stay 10 meters away from the flame.

  10. Thanks for another educational blog :). Over here they have paper degrees too and Drs scrubs

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