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Thread: Chinese wake

  1. #1

    Default Chinese wake

    I have attended a few but am still a little baffled as to the custom, the red string, the towels, the joss sticks, the 10 cents.. the odd number for the donation...

    can anyone with experience run through the process of visiting a traditional chinese wake? i come from a strictly christian family and have little knowledge..

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Quote Originally Posted by big_lan View Post
    I have attended a few but am still a little baffled as to the custom, the red string, the towels, the joss sticks, the 10 cents.. the odd number for the donation...

    can anyone with experience run through the process of visiting a traditional chinese wake? i come from a strictly christian family and have little knowledge..
    red string is for you to tie to your finger (i forget which 1), iirc, suppose to prevent the 'spirit' from following you, just drop it anywhere outside along your way home, dun bring it home...

    towels... dunno...

    joss stick for the deceased, a form of respect.

    10 cents... dunno... think its like u give them money, they give u change or something... its like u give, they return abit...
    Logging Off. "You have 2,631 messages stored, of a total 400 allowed." don't PM me.

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    are you referring to wet towels for you to wipe your face?

    ok i'm not 100% sure of the original meaning but i've seen towels given to funeral guests to clean themselves before making offerings to the dead. it's a form of respect.

    incense has been widely used in many religions, both in the East and West. for Buddhist and Taoist traditions burning incense aids the cleaning of thoughts through symbolic spatial cleansing.

    even numbers are auspicious numbers (except 4) because they symbolise bliss in companionship (pairs) that's why 'white gold' are given in odd number.
    Last edited by eikin; 23rd April 2007 at 05:55 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Chinese wake

    woh thanks man..

    this really answers a lot.


    on the question on taoist and buddhist wakes, are they diffferent? and if so in what way?

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Quote Originally Posted by big_lan View Post
    woh thanks man..

    this really answers a lot.


    on the question on taoist and buddhist wakes, are they diffferent? and if so in what way?
    http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_ch...tent_46092.htm

    it's a complex topic, it not only involves religion but also differences in local practices.

    chinese rites are based on filial piety, which explains why Buddhism and Taoism, both based on filial piety as well, are so readily fused into originally non-religious rites. maybe you should give the temples a visit if you want to go deeper.
    Last edited by eikin; 23rd April 2007 at 09:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Basically if u're a christian and feel offended in holding joss sticks, there isn't really a need to do so.

    The 2 joss sticks (remember, take 2! Not 1, not 3 but 2!) and 3 bows doesn't mean u're 'praying' or 'worshipping' but a hallmark of respect to the deceased.

    The red string which one finds in the plate is sort of like a 'lucky charm' to prevent wandering spirits from following u home. Basically, u take the string and wrap it around ur little finger only when u are about to leave and just before u reach home, u discard the string either on the roadside or in a bin.

    And when u're leaving, there's no need to specifically go over to the deceased family members and inform them of ur departure. Simply leave quietly. This is what is traditionally practised.

    No reds, no pinks, no oranges, no outlandishly punkish colours. Plain, simple dressing of black, white, dark or light colours.

    As for the 'white gold' (or "Peh Gim" as known in Hokkien), give odd numbers, not even.

    And BTW, u'll probably see the closest relative of the deceased sitting beside the coffin and burning joss papers. Don't offer ur help (no matter how well intended it may be) to help to burn. Its part of the funeral process which only immediate family members are allowed access.

    Yes thats about it. Know it well. U are a Chinese I guess? It doesn't hurt to know such tidbit knowledge. More and more of the old practices and traditional ways of doing things are disappearing year by year. Its like telling ppl, "I'm Chinese and I don't know how to hold chopsticks properly." kind of thing.
    Last edited by jsbn; 23rd April 2007 at 09:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbn View Post
    Basically if u're a christian and feel offended in holding joss sticks, there isn't really a need to do so.

    The 2 joss sticks (remember, take 2! Not 1, not 3 but 2!) and 3 bows doesn't mean u're 'praying' or 'worshipping' but a hallmark of respect to the deceased.

    The red string which one finds in the plate is sort of like a 'lucky charm' to prevent wandering spirits from following u home. Basically, u take the string and wrap it around ur little finger only when u are about to leave and just before u reach home, u discard the string either on the roadside or in a bin.

    And when u're leaving, there's no need to specifically go over to the deceased family members and inform them of ur departure. Simply leave quietly. This is what is traditionally practised.

    No reds, no pinks, no oranges, no outlandishly punkish colours. Plain, simple dressing of black, white, dark or light colours.

    Yes thats about it. Know it well. U are a Chinese I guess? It doesn't hurt to know such tidbit knowledge. More and more of the old practices and traditional ways of doing things are disappearing year by year.
    do you happen to know the explanation behind the 2 joss sticks practice? i've seen cases where only 1 is offered

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Quote Originally Posted by Del_CtrlnoAlt View Post
    towels... dunno...

    10 cents... dunno... think its like u give them money, they give u change or something... its like u give, they return abit...
    The towels and 10 cents its like "well-wishes, thanks and hopefully bad luck doesn't befall u" thing.

    Usually given to those who attend the funeral on the very last day to see the deceased to the crematorium.

    Those who are driving usually would be offered a small bag of 2 oranges, a towel and maybe 10 or 20 cents wrapped in red paper. Like "Heng-Heng" thing.

    Those who take the transport provided would be offered a towel and maybe 10 or 20cents wrapped in red paper.

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    do you happen to know the explanation behind the 2 joss sticks practice? i've seen cases where only 1 is offered
    To my best knowledge:
    - Praying to Gods. 3 or 1 joss sticks. Use only red-based joss sticks.

    At funeral rites
    - Immediate family praying to deceased. 1 joss stick
    - Outsiders praying to deceased. 2 joss sticks
    Usually red based joss sticks

    7th lunar month
    - For spirits, green based joss sticks. One only.
    - For Gods, red based joss sticks. One or Three.

    I'm not exactly sure of the rationale of 2 joss sticks for outsiders, but the 1 joss stick (including the very large one u see) planted by immediate family members acts somewhat like a 'guide light' to lead the spirit of the deceased to the nether world.

    And in kiasu Singapore spirit, dun think, "Bigger is effective." The bigger joss sticks are reserved exclusively for the family use. Don't touch it...
    Last edited by jsbn; 23rd April 2007 at 10:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbn View Post
    The towels and 10 cents its like "well-wishes, thanks and hopefully bad luck doesn't befall u" thing.

    Usually given to those who attend the funeral on the very last day to see the deceased to the crematorium.

    Those who are driving usually would be offered a small bag of 2 oranges, a towel and maybe 10 or 20 cents wrapped in red paper. Like "Heng-Heng" thing.

    Those who take the transport provided would be offered a towel and maybe 10 or 20cents wrapped in red paper.
    sounds like a variation belonging only to singapore/singapore-malaysia region, interesting nonetheless. have to agree the 'heng-heng' concept is quite rooted in many 'modern' practices.

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Just recalled. Joss sticks for praying are usually in odd numbers of only 1 or 3. Even number joss sticks used are meant for paying respects to deceased.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Chinese wake

    wow thanks jsbn for all the useful information...

    yes i'm chinese and i have attended quite a few. but i never really understood the practices as my family never talks about such things.

    i believe that as a mark of culture, regardless of religion, these practices should be retained..

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Quote Originally Posted by big_lan View Post
    wow thanks jsbn for all the useful information...

    yes i'm chinese and i have attended quite a few. but i never really understood the practices as my family never talks about such things.

    i believe that as a mark of culture, regardless of religion, these practices should be retained..
    Well, normally, most ppl would refrain from talking about funeral rites. Take it like a sort of 'taboo topic' not ur regular dinnertable conversation topic thing.

    I guess all of us fear death up to a certain point as well huh?

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbn View Post
    I guess all of us fear death up to a certain point as well huh?
    In a wake of any human being all actions are purely symbolic usually
    prescribed by man made regulations or tradition. The actions performed are also known as rituals customised accordingly to different races and so on.

    What then are the purposes of performing all these rituals?
    Mainly in the belief that the satisfaction of the spiritual and even emotional needs. Also for the strengthening of social friendship and bonds. Often they are also for compliance of religious obligation.

    For example some of the unique human rituals so often seen is the
    hand-shaking and hugging one another when meeting someone special or a new acquaintance. Even saying "Hi" or "Hello" is a ritual.

    ------------------------------------
    Baptism and performing
    the Holy Communion are rituals too.

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    Default Re: Chinese wake

    PS, do use the money ASAP. Do not keep it, it's meant for you to buy sweets to keep you lucky.

    Taoist prayer rites are more elaborate, there are some which entails usage of a bridge and the procession of the family members must follow the priest to walk a few rounds over and around the bridge.

    Buddhist prayer rites are normally more simple, but they emphasise on the vegetarian point and that they chant the sutras over a period of time (the family members just need to kneel behind and be solemn)

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