Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Chinese Taoism Funeral

My old friend Cyrstal passed away about 2 months ago after a big battle with breast cancer that eventually spread all over till her lungs collapsed. She was brave and fought hard till the end knowing that her survival chances were slim. She requested for no life support or medications to prolong her suffering anymore. She knew that her big supportive family members have been showering all their love and attention but she could no longer bear to see them suffer as well. Her 7 loving nephews and nieces were like her own children that she never had. Her final requests was to have the fullest & elaborate Chinese Taoist funeral in accordance to the Hokkien clan's rites. She wanted her funeral wakes to include the Taoism-Buddhist prayers, happy band singing, big loud drummers, paper mansion and street funeral band procession on her funeral day. Crystal wanted to be sent off happily and in style. I was amused when her family member related to me.

My friendship with her went back to the 80s when I was the wildest party animal who went clubbing many nights weekly in Penang. Our clubbing nights were often at the popular Rasa Sayang Hotel's Cinta Discotheque and also Orchard Hotel's The Cinnamon Tree along the coastal areas. Crystal loved the discotheque scenes where she could shake & dance cha-cha very well. She was tall and stood at 5' 10' with a very sweet face which attracted many friends who enjoyed her shy & girl-next-door's giggles covering her mouth. My best friend fell madly in love with her older sister instead and went on hot pursuit to woo her! So my gang went clubbing with the 2 sisters as well. Later on, Crystal got acceptance to study at University Science Malaysia and told me that her dancing days were over as she had to focus seriously on her studies! The following year, I left for United States and my best friend married her older sister during my absence. Over the years I did not keep in touch with Crystal but we met just once when I drove over to her house to meet my best friend.

I am sharing this long post of her funeral which might interest some readers from different religious faiths and foreign countries. The 48 photos below will illustrate how a typical Chinese Taoist funeral rites are conducted.



1. The funeral wake was held for 3 nights at her family home.
The casket was place inside the living room.

2. Her graduation photo was placed on the altar at the end
of her casket and flanked by a pair of paper "male & female servants"
who will serve her in the after world.

3. The prayer altar was set up outside the house with the
scrolls of the Taoism deities.

4. The family ordered this custom made 'Paper Mansion" which would be enjoyed
by the deceased in the next life.

5. There were many boxes of  "money" and " treasures" that
would be burnt later that midnight.

6. Close-up view of the entrance to her mansion. There was
a uniformed guard at the door with some kitchen utensils to use.

7. They also ordered some movies and CD songs with a Flat Screen TV and
satellite TV service! Wow!

8. They served many types of nyonya kuehs and hot black coffee
for the visitors and well wishers. They also had a fabulous chef on
duty to fry yummy Char Kueh Teow for everyone. We all enjoyed
eating and chatting with friends to rekindle the good days.

9. My wife had never met Crystal but she promptly sat down to
chant the whole prayers from the sutra book of DiZang Wang Bodhisattva
to dedicate the merits to Crystal for a good journey.
Crystal's soul stood behind her solemly.

10. My wife had notified the nephews and nieces to observe the 3 joss sticks
that she had placed on the urn at the start of her long prayers. They were told
that when the 3 joss sticks started to burn at different lengths all the way down
would signify an auspicious journey.

11. The brood of nephews and nieces were so excited to see the 3 joss sticks
had really reached the auspicious lengths as per the website's photo above.
The soul of Crystal "communicated" with her older sister who gave their assurance
for her to go in peace to the better realms. It was such a sad and touching moment
to see the clairvoyant who assisted them. The clairvoyant was my wife.

12. The band started to sing some happier songs that final night.

13. The Taoist Monk in yellow robe conducted long prayers and
rituals together with the entire family members.

14. The Taoist Monk led the family members to cross over the
mini heavenly bridge.

15. The niece carried the urn with lighted joss
stick to represent the deceased.

16. At midnight, they placed all the paper offerings, money, treasures and
mansion at the cross junction near the house to burn them all.

17. When all the paper offerings were burnt, it would be sent
instantly to the "after world".

18. The paper mansion being set on fire.


19. An altar was set up outside the house with food and fruit
offerings before the funeral at 10.00am.

20. The clothes and shoes of Crystal were placed on the chair
with her paper statue attached.

21. The band sang their final happy songs that could be heard
in the whole neighbourhood.

22. The paper sedan chair was prepared ready to carry 
Crystal's soul which would make its way to the crematorium.

23. It was a very sad moment to have their last look at
their youngest sibling Crystal and bade farewell.
They have 6 siblings and Crystal was a very caring sister
who spent a lot of time doing long prayers before she was sick.
She often showered all her family members with her generous
gifts. They all loved her so much! This made me wonder why
good and kind people always died so young?
Karma Rules.

24. 2 sets of drummers hammered their last thunderous numbers
in front of the casket.

25. The soul has been placed on the sedan chair outside
by the road sides.

26.  The Taoist Monk conducted the final rites before
the funeral ceremony.

27. The casket was placed outside the house, right behind the
altar and the hearse transport.

28. The back of hearse transport.

29. The front view of the funeral hearse.

30. All the family members and friends paid their last respects
to the deceased.

31. The funeral cortege left the house and all the mourners walked for
some 2 kilometers away before boarding the chartered buses.

32. The sombre funeral procession.

33. The funeral street band led the Taoist Monk and the sedan chair.


34. The final place - United Hokkien Cemeteries.

35. This is the foyer area of the crematorium.

36. The coffin was placed outside the entrance to the
cremation chamber.

37. The drummer giving his final beatings on the big drum
for a good send off.

38. Final rites conducted by the Taoist Monk before
the cremation starts.

39. The body was cremated inside the chamber while the Taoist 
Monk led the family members to the open space to send off the

40. The family members circled the sedan chair with prayers
before lighting it on fire.

41. The final send off.

42. These terraces houses all the other urns at the columbarium.

43. There was a food canteen with the comforts of air cond
and dining tables for the mourners and well wishers.
They served white porridge with dishes for our lunch.

44. This is a common sight at Chinese funerals where they
would place a bucket of fresh water with petals of assorted
flowers. This water would be used to wipe our hands and faces
to help purify & brighten up our well being after attending
funerals which are deemed as "Yin" occasions.


45. The funeral undertakers had collected the ashes and placed
them inside the metal pan for the family to sort out.

46. The ashes have been sorted out and arranged inside the white
marble urn. The undertaker sealed it with glue and tied with a 
red fabric ribbon.

47. The Taoist Monk conducted a special prayer to bless the new
niche to place the urn. This columbarium was inside another
temple grounds of another location in Penang.

"May Your Soul Rest In Peace
In The Land Of Eternity."



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Most Popular Ramen In Osaka

My Japan's trip posts have been fast forward to the last night in Osaka. I think I have dragged it too long making it smell like salted fish. I have not forgotten to post the gossip tales of marriage woes of other friends. Well, the next priority post will be the funeral of my old friend who had requested for the most elaborate Taoist Hokkien rites complete with the singing, invitation of deceased souls, "Kong Teik" Paper mansion, street funeral band and cremation. You know what? Many foreigners had google searched for funerals and came to see my earlier blog on funeral postings of my Thai uncle and my father-in-law. So this elaborate Taoist Hokkien rites should be able to share with the world of some traditional Chinese funerals.

1. It was our last night in Osaka and we had to look for our favourite 
Ramen shop inside the busy Dotonbori hub. For first timers, you are advised
to stay in hotels around Namba & Dotonbori for convenience and shopping.

2. I love all their attractive advertising icons hanging to
attract the customers! Being an advertising guy, I love
to admire and snap all the photos. 

3. It was almost Spring and many pretty flowers were sold everywhere!

 4. Aha!! We found it! The big Dragon is the most famous Ramen Shop
in Osaka and all visitors must try it. It is cheap and good.

5. This is the pre-pay machine outside the shop for diners to place their
orders. The only have 2 staff at the counter and that saves labour costs!
The plain water and assorted vegetables like Kim Chi is free for you
to scoop at the counter. That was the big bonus for us to scoop so much
until it became a Korean Kim Chi Ramen! LOL

 6. The group eating in the middle consisted of a grey haired
CEO of a big company who visited Osaka. He walked in with his
bodyguards and entourage who seemed to introduce the Osaka's
ramen to him.

 7. We ate and ate happily again since the last meal was in 2014.
As usual, I forgot to snap the photo of my bowl of delicious ramen.
Tsk! Tsk!

8. We went for a quick walk after the meal and joined the big crowds of
China's comrades who were busy taking photos at the most photographed
spot in Osaka and maybe Japan... 
The reflections on the canal of the Ebisu Bridge is nice!

 9. One for our Love Album. 2 lovers under the famous
Ebisu Bridge in Osaka.

 10. Twilight Man posing with the most famous Osaka's illuminated "Glico Man" 
billboard ad in the world. He will keep running till the finishing line.

 11. I like to drink Asahi Beer. It is very dry and different from other beers.

 12. Do you know that checking out of new hotels in Japan
is super fast now. Just slot your room's key-card into the machine
and Sayonara Japan! I will be back again in 2017 - Sapporo!