Sunday, April 01, 2007

For future reference

Today's our Angkong's 7th death anniversary. This morning, before going to the temple to light incense for him and Amah, my family went to the Chinese cemetery to visit the grave of our Taima (great grandmother) and bring offerings. It was the first time for me to participate in the ritual, which consisted of the following:

  • light 2 candles and 3 incense sticks for To Ti Kong (the god of the underworld)
  • place food offerings for TTK beside the candles (today it was a can of fruit cocktail and a bag of cookies; apparently, the god of the underworld has a sweet tooth)
  • place food offerings on the shelf under Taima's portrait (mamon, pork barbecue, tsang (sticky rice wrapped in leaves), siomai, misua, and of course, good old Savory chicken-- no offering's complete without it)
  • light candles and incense sticks for Taima
  • paste paper money on Taima's marble grave
  • fold different kind of paper money for TTK and Taima
  • when the 3 incense sticks for TTK burn out, burn a binful of paper money for him
  • burn another binful of paper money for Taima
  • light another batch of incense sticks for Taima
  • clear up the food offerings, leave only the paper money stuck to the grave

I've enumerated all the steps because as Hanks and I were helping our mom and our aunt fold paper money, I mentioned that someone should be taking down notes so that we'd know what to do in the future when the adults aren't around anymore. As it is, our family's not a stickler for these rituals (often our aunts and uncles find themselves befuddled and asking each other what to do, or debating whether it's 2 incense sticks or 4), and for all we know, we've already offended some god somewhere by shortchanging him a stack or 2 of paper money. Our Aunt Lechu jokingly said that it's ok to screw up the rituals as long as you say "sorry" out loud as you're doing something you're not sure of. :p

In any case, it's good to have a rough guide for when we need to do the same things in the future and there's no one to consult. A tad morbid, but it's better to be prudent. Besides, we don't want to piss off TTK. He may like his fruit cocktail, but that dude's a badass.


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