Monday, March 13, 2006

Death The Taoist Way

Eng's niece and sister-in-law are shown here sitting by Papa's coffin burning paper money (Papa's coffin is just behind the yellow heart with his picture). Apart from Eng's youngest brother and his family, all of Eng's immediate family members are Taoists and believe in ancestral worship and providing for the needs of their departed loved ones. From the moment Papa was placed in the coffin in the driveway of their house, they took turns burning the paper money which they believed went to the world where Papa went. Since they believed Papa was able to spend this money in the afterlife, they burned as much of it as possible.

The paper money shown here had no significant etchings on them except some Chinese characters. Some of the paper money burned with the other items actually had "Hell's Notes" written on them!
The house shown on the left was totally constructed out of very thin Japanese paper. To the left and right of the house are paper servants awaiting Papa's arrival with food and drinks ready to serve him and to respond to his biding. There is a smaller figure in the front of the house serving as Doorman and if you enlarge the picture, you will see made-of-cardboard TV, electric fan, DVD player, gold watch, lounge chair, jewellery, and even a Mahjong set! [Papa loved to play mahjong when he was alive.] While this house was getting burned, they also burned several boxes of paper gold bullions and threw uncooked rice in the fire. No one could explain the 'rice' gesture to Linda. If you know why, please feel free to comment. Since these burning ways are learned from the generations before them, no one knows the rationale behind it now. Since the uncooked rice wasn't made of paper, did the ancient Taoists think the rice got to Papa as cooked rice?

This almost-life-sized super-light paper Mercedez Benz came with a paper chauffeur and lots and lots of Hell's Notes tossed in in the back seat of the car. It took less than two minutes to burn her up.

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