Ancestors worship and the understanding of religious differences
Posted on August 14th, 2008 by Lilian • Filed under: Faith
Tomorrow is the 15th day of the 7th month which is the Hungry Ghost Festival. So, we decided to pop by the temple where my mother and father’s urn is placed. The urn has only the earth from the grave. When they died, the Taoist monk (wor siong) will say some prayers at the grave, then, bring a lighted joss-stick and go to the temple and give them their ‘home’ in the temple. Since none of my siblings do ancestors worship at home, it is the best idea to have a proper place for their memorial.
The temple in Phor Tay is a very peaceful, clean, calm and orderly columbarium (a repository for human ashes or earth from the grave if the person is buried and not cremated) because it is a very old one and no new ‘residents’ are admitted anymore. Do you know that it is very costly to just ‘rent’ one tiny square? Those elaborate temples charge up to RM50K for one slot!
Anyway, I took my sons there and showed my little boy ‘mommy’s mommy and papa. He has this knack of understanding things. He has that look like he knows everything. We bought a packet of joss-sticks and burnt and placed them. (normally, if you are a Buddhist or Taoist, you bring the joss sticks to the heavenly god urn which is usually placed outside the building and pray to thnee kong and tell him that you are here to pray your parents etc and ask him to bless them, then, you go to the next statues, i.e. the Lord Buddha/Guan Yin and then, the ‘guard’ of the deceased souls, normally placed in the same building and ask permission for your ancestors to have a meal etc and then, only you pray to your ancestors).
We burnt the joss-sticks just because they are on sale for RM1 one packet. I told my little boy to pray, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on my ah mah and ah kong, bless them and all the people here and bring them to Your Heavenly Kingdom, Amen.”
On Hungry Ghost month, you can pay the temple a certain sum (it used to be RM75 for the whole two weeks) of money and they will ‘invite’ your deceased loved ones to the feast. Every morning, they will place freshly cooked vegetarian foods, fruits, cakes, drinks and etc and offer to them. This is call the ‘cheeau tor’. My kid was so fascinated with the milk bottles placed there while I cringed thinking how morbid it is.
So, he asked me if ‘There are babies here who still drink milk ah?” Now, the Christian faith has to come into action because I don’t want my boy to get confused. So, I told him, “No lah, Jesus said when we died, everyone become beautiful souls and live in Heaven with God. There are foods and lots of things to eat already. Just like Vincent kor-kor, he big boy already, not a baby forever. But this is a different belief. We are Christians, they are Taoists.”
There are so many types of fruits, cakes and dishes. Yummy…durians!
Normally, all these foods will be given away to the poor for consumption after prayers. In Buddhist belief, they do not offer foods but Chinese in Penang and Malaysia usually have a blend of Taoism and Buddhism dan lain-lain so the practice of offering foods is very much part of their ritual. At most, it gives the people the comfort that they are doing something for their deceased loved ones.
After the trip to the temple, we went to the market for lunch. The flower stall has lots of flowers and we decided to buy some roses to place at my church Our Lady of Lourdes grotto. Tomorrow is the day Mother Mary is lifted up to Heaven as it is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is an obligation day for all Catholics to attend mass. So, the dear hubby who is not a Catholic gladly helped to choose the nicest roses.
And we brought the roses to the grotto ‘cos our little boy loves hanging around there. So, you see, there is really no big deal with being of different faiths in the same family. It is just a matter of knowing when to shut up. Serious….Like I know when not to bitch when ‘some people’ go pray ancestors and ask them favours like helping them to do this, do that. I personally feel, “Yeerr…..people die already, leave them alone lah, don’t kacau them to ask for favours somemore. They are your parents, but you cannot always run to them and tell them to bless so & so with better luck, more wealth, good health because they are only humans, once. They are on their long holiday, a well deserved rests so stop bugging them, can?” Ok, ok, I shaddap, no more inlaws rant.
Watch out….tomorrow is a full moon…..Be careful, ok? Oh ya, while I was out today, I bumped into two funerals procession already. Must be the ‘ship’ arrival…..Jeng jeng jeng…*spooky music in the background*