Typical Chinese all over the world greatly honor loyalty to community and family - a Confucian influence. Much importance and seriousness are placed upon respecting the older generation, particularly parents and grandparents. This obedience and respect is an unconditional obligation and is expected to evolve into veneration or even worship once they pass on from this world.
For example, the traditional Chinese death rite is such that at death, the body is buried and paper models of houses, maids, dvd players, cars and others are burnt so that the deceased would have them for their life in hell. A lot of spirit money (also called Hell money) is burned so that the deceased will have enough to spend in the afterlife. It is believed that hell is a world which parallels the world of the living.
Two festivals, which are synonymous with the practice of veneration of the dead, are Ching Ming and Hungry Ghost Festival. Ching Ming day, which also marks the beginning of spring, is focused on ancestor worship. On this day, family members would visit ancestral graves where special rites are held and offerings are made in honor of ancestors. Such events are related to the Chinese tradition of receiving blessings from previous generations when undertaking a new venture.
Meanwhile, Hungry Ghosts Festival takes place in autumn (15th day of the 7th lunar month). Throughout the 7th lunar month, prayers and offerings of food such as chicken, vegetables, fruits and rice are placed at street corners and roadsides to appease spirits that are set free during this time. The offering is believed to prevent wandering spirits from entering one's home and causing disturbances in the households. In fact, it is also common practice to hold outdoor concerts to entertain these hungry ghosts during this month.
During this month, superstitious Singaporean entrepreneurs would "appease" the spirits in front of their business premises with food, incense joss sticks and the burning of hell money.Of course, for Chinese who are Christians, many of these rituals and beliefs contradict what we believe about hell and the dead. Hence, it's always a challenge for individual Christians who have family members that subscribe to such traditional notions.
4 years ago