SECRET PLACE AND FOOD FOR COMMUNICATION Sacriﬁces are sometimes made to altars as food for the deceased. Necessities and luxuries, like the deceased's favorite foods, wine, and small sums of money, are placed on the altar in bowls or burned in front of the altar in order to provide for their welfare in the life after dead, which is envisioned as being
similar to the earthly life. This falls under the modes of communication with the Chinese spiritual world concepts. Some of the veneration includes visiting the deceased at their graves and making offerings to the deceased on the altars set up at home in the Spring, Autumn, and Ghost Festivals. Due to
the hardships of the late 19th- and 20th-century China, when meat and poultry were difﬁcult to come by, sumptuous feasts are still offered in some Asian countries as a practice to the spirits or ancestors. However, in the orthodox Taoist and Buddhist rituals, only vegetarian food would sufﬁce.
ON THE MENTAL ESSENCE Confucian Religion「慎終追遠」 n
THE AWAITING FESTIVAL FOR GATHERING Tomb-sweeping day, or the Qingming festival, falls every year as it has now for thousands of years, just after the Spring equinox (April 5 this year). It’s a day for the living to reunite with family members, to pay their respects to the dead, and to enjoy the warming spring air. But you too are looking forward to it, because you need stuff, just as generations of ancestors before you
have. You’re keeping your ﬁngers crossed that your descendants will have given careful thought to what provisions will get you through another year. The money, joss paper as it is called, is burnt at gravesites, its essence then transmitted to ancestors for use in the spirit world. Traditional joss papers are silver and gold paper squares. Others take the form of stacks of faux paper
money (known as “hell notes”). But these days, all manner of objects are appearing in temple stores: paper cell phones, TV sets, laptops, and even small cars, to be burned in large ovens on site. Pictured above is one of our favorites, a dental kit featuring a paper toothbrush, toothpaste tube, mouthwash bottle and cup.
Confucianism puts the family and family ties above all else in the Chinese society. In order to ensure the family member gets a good start in the world after death, It’s the obligation of the offsprings to take good care of the funeral, place the corpse in a proper cofﬁn and look for a comfortable cemetery to let the ancestor
to rest in the spiritual world. Tseng Tzu, the advocator of Confucianism, said: "When they are careful (about their parents) to the end and continue in reverence after (their parents) are long gone, the virtue of the people will return to its natural depth." Chinese believe that taking good care of the deceased would escalate one’s virtue.
The Family Hierarchical Structure「長幼有序」 n A family operating under a generic hierarchical structure places the parents at the helm, which holds a prominent position in the Chinese Culture and has the direct effect on people’s behaviors and thinking. Is the basic unit that constitutes the society. So, it’s believed that the elders of the
family are revered for their wisdom so in both traditional and modern families, elders are respected, taken care of and looked up to by the rest of the family. When elders die, they are honored by ancestor altars in homes, featuring candles, photographs and favorite items of the deceased.
Published on Apr 23, 2013