It is the season of giving and receiving once again. Right now, my house has millions of golds and silver, jade and pearls, credit cards, wooden clogs and more. Then, there are bags of money.
Each year, they get more and more creative. First they make bicycles, now they make cars. But with petrol price increasing, they decided it is cheaper to own a petrol station. So, they make petrol station. Why don’t they just make a whole globe and offer to their ancestors, huh?
Last time, they have the traditional white powder. Now, they have botox injection for your grandmas. LOL. Ok, maybe no botox but there is SKII for grandma.
Hades can be pretty boring if you don’t have something kinky to strut around to tempt the hamsap gwais who are probably crowding around in hell. (Hamsap gwais – lusty ghosts). So, they make lingeries. This year, I saw on shop selling a pink and white layer evening gown.
I stopped the Ching Ming tradition the day my fourth son died. Yet, there are paper clothes, paper shoes, paper chocolates, paper milk bottles, paper toys for those who still believe in burning them for their deceased children. Oh well, to each his/her own. I’d rather release whatever control I have over my child and let God takes care of the rest. (read Kenapa kaum Cina sembah kubur)
This evening, I was at the Pulau Tikus market and saw them selling the different kuehs meant to be offered to the deceased. Now, they are more enterprising and they packed everything into boxes. So, people can afford to get lazier and lazier. Just buy some, chuck them to the tombstone and the duty is done. Personally, I don’t care anymore.
This comes from someone who used to co-ordinate the offerings for five graves each year. Counting the number of kuehs and fruits for the tua pek kong, thor tay kong, the ah kong, ah mah, ah pek, fil and mil are enough to give me white hairs. Then, there is the cooking of five dishes. Not forgetting the roasted pig. Or the red paper, white paper, yellow papers. Then, the correct fashion for the grandparents-in-law, uncle-in-law who died a bachelor and my parents-in-law.
Ah well, they have to go on diet now. Hubby used to buy the chicken and duck for prayers. Then, he got lazier and offers fruits and kuehs only. My children and I still tag along with him to the various graveyards (did I tell you they are located all over Penang graveyards?) if my sils didn’t go cuckoo with the time.
Talking about sils, now that they are much older, they have stopped bugging this Christian daughter-in-law already. I used to get very pissed when they kept calling to order to buy this food, that food and etc. Imagine four of them, with their endless requests? Plus they wanted to fit in their schedules (with their own in-laws) and usually demanded my hubby prayers a hell lot earlier when the whole graveyard was deserted and full of lallang. One year, my poor kids and I were practically in a jungle!
Cheng Beng real day is on April 5th this year. One can start prayer 10 days before and 10 days after. This year, due to hubby’s work, he is only going on the 5th of April, the real day. No more dictated by the bunch of four sils who want the best of both worlds, pray their own inlaws and their parents. You free you come, you no free, never mind lah.
(This is thor tay kong or the god who takes care of the earth, as in the tanah, not the world. So, we must give him something to eat and drink first before he allows the dead to get out of their grave to eat the foods.)
My mom-in-law bequeathed these praying duties to me. She once told me, “Don’t bother about the daughters. They pray or not, not important. But sons must not fail to do so.” Well, I did carry out the prayers faithfully. Until my own son died and suddenly, death means nothing to me. Then, before I was baptised as a Christian, I did feel bad for failing her and sending out all the ancestors tablets out of my home. But then, one doesn’t need to actually show these sort of filial duties to be filial.
I guess one is filial as long as they remember the deceased. What good is it for children to go to their ancestors graveyards once a year and then, start offering huat kueh to huat chai, ang koo to beh hooi khoo (rhymes – huat kueh is a kind of cake, huat chai is prosperity, angkoo is another kueh, hooi khoo is buy estate). Ong lai for the prosperity to come?
Sometimes, I wonder. When my own husband (he has three older brothers, btw) is too old to carry out these duties, will I be able to get my Christian sons to climb the hill, cangkul the lallang and place some flowers there? Maybe…..but then, I already told them to throw my ashes into the sea and don’t bother with visiting my grave. Just make me an online altar. Muahahar.
Come to think of it, if there is an award for ‘people who is most unlikely to become a Christian’, I would win it. But things happened the way God intended and God knows best.