Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why bother them?
If you have been involved in traditional Chinese funerals (and by traditional, I mean those kinds where it involves some chanting or burning of stuff), you know there are certain procedures to follow.

1) The extended version of chanting by some monks on the last night of the funeral

2) The praying and food offering on the 7th day of the dead

3) The praying and food offering on the 100th day of the dead

I have been involved in a number of funerals these couple of years (evidence that while I hate the fact that I'm aging, many others are dying (so I should be more thankful that I'm still alive)). Somehow these rituals all involved in the shouting of "HUAT AH!!" at the end of the procession.

My question is, why are we shouting for "Big Money!!" when someone has died?

Do we really believe that the ancestors, or the deceased, would bless the remaining (living) family members with "Big Money Luck"?

Why are people still expecting the deceased to do something for them? If they're dead and assuming there is after-life, shouldn't the deceased be, well, enjoying themselves already? Shouldn't death be a form of retirement, for good?

Looking at the way some family members have turned out, I used to tell myself that I have lousy ancestors. They do not bless their descendants to turn out to be good or rich people. But as I get older, I realised:

1) The ancestors are not gods; they can't change human behavior. Hell, perhaps even gods can't do that

2) The ancestors, if they do exist, are not obliged to give their descendants good fortune even if they can (I can imagine if I'm already dead, and my children are asking me to bless them with lady luck for the Toto and 4D, I would be thinking, "Man! I can't catch a break!")

3) Money needs to be earned, in whatever ways you adopt. There shouldn't be any shortcut.

I have been a Buddhist all my life (at least, that's what I think). All these years, whenever I pray, I pray for my family to be safe and studies/work to go on smoothly (except when I was very young, and I lost my wallet once, I prayed for my wallet to be returned to me, and i really got it back =)).

As I get older, praying becomes a form of remembering the deceased. I do not think of my father every day; only occassionally. On the days that praying is involved, I would think more of him. I do not ask for good fortune or money; rather, I would tell him what my life is like now. And I always end off with, "if you're around and listening to this, pls look out for your son, who still needs a lot of guidance in life."

Anyway, to conclude, it just doesn't make sense, to me, to be asking the deceased for more money. You should be shouting "HUAT AH!!" to living people only instead.

Happy CNY, people. And it makes more sense, during this coming festive season, for me to say the following ...