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Friday, December 03, 2004

What Wakes Can Remind A Person aka Being Mortal

Went for a funeral wake of a parishioner's father who wasn't a Catholic but a Taoist. The wonder of engaging people in this situation is that you get to see the other side of faith that is express in a manner that is totally different from what one has been taught.

Arrived there in the midst of their prayers and chanting with the customary bells, traditional Chinese instruments and tok, tok sounds as the Taoist priest prepared the deceased or 'the wandering soul' to its new home. It took about 40 or so minutes of standing and waiting for the whole thing to finish before I get to find a place to sit down and have a chat with the parishioner concerned. The place was crowded with other people, either sitting or standing by outside and around the room in Singapore Casket (Lavender St) where the wake was.

The Taoist funeral rites, though long, had its own respect for the dead that we also go through but with a different setting. Taoists believe that death is not the end of life. When death occurs, it is treated as the continuation of life into another phase, the phase of the soul. Visitors to the wake are expected to wear sober colours. For those colours, I saw the preference was on black, especially from the younger crowd (why am I not surprise?). Where donations in cash are given to the family of the deceased, they must be given in white envelopes.

This is the first time I witnessed a Taoist funeral rite first hand. Interesting night it was. I have been through many wakes over the past year in several churches and void decks. I never wrote or thought more about them till now. They all are reminding me that I am mortal and not too far away from facing my end that may happen at any time.


Anonymous said...

Have u attended a "Teochew Cross-bridge style" of funeral? even though my dad's side Taoist, i never practised as a Taoist but ever kena follow the Taoist priest coz grandma funeral to walk around the coffin. i had other stuffs on my mind. watever family members ask to do just do it with my rosary in my pocket. "People and relatives are watching". Don't laugh nowadays Taoist priests speak English, latest model hps and cars.

Jude Gal said...

My dad's side Taoist. Don't laugh ok, Taoist priests got the latest cars/hps watever you name it, speak english oso. my grandma funeral we follwed the Taoist priest to walk around the coffin. i had other things on my mind - Fr Aloy??? dad also laughed coz Taoist priest car latest model mercs.

with my excompany, had a client who was a taoist priest, sold him a $20 over dollars product, regretted, put dwn the phone started laughing and giggling, coz when i asked him abt occupation - "Self-Employed", he said he taoist priest, wat's $20 to him when he drives latest car,hp watever still told me in hokkein i work oni "certain days in a month". One funeral rite the quoting price is he quotes and u just pay for it.

U been to a Teochew Cross-bridge Funeral? anyway my last funeral wake was my uncle's funeral by then my dad just left me alone with the funeral rites. he by then took me as catholic oni the 2nd last one which was my grandma's funeral he wanted me to particate but i didn't have any regretts coz a/f tat dad respected my faith and he himself goes to pray at nativity church nowadays.


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