Funeral Rites Final

28 09 2008

Today, my mother-in-law was finally laid to rest via cremation at the Fairy Park cemetery in Sendayan. There was a band to play some sombre music, which would also make it a grand sending-off for her. We were asked to have one final look and say our goodbyes before the coffin was really nailed shut for good.

As per Chinese custom, we looked away while they nailed the coffin shut and again, when they brought it out into the road for final rites. The hearse was estimated to leave at around 1.00 pm. Interestingly, only then did I know that all bereaved, relatives and friends would follow behind the hearse while the sons-in-law (and grandsons-in-law) would travel in front of the hearse.

If you note the tall red banner flag from the picture above, it actually has writings on it that glorifies the deceased and it is meant to represent the sons-in-law honouring their mother-in-law. Chinese customs deem a son-in-law as ‘fu-ma’ (emperor’s son-in-law) that have married the family princess, thus it is right for a ‘fu-ma’ to glorify the princess’ family.

I was asked to do the honour of carrying the banner flag for the family.

A short walking journey ensued from the house till the main road, before we all got into a bus to travel to Fairy Park. There, we witnessed the symbolic push-in of the coffin into the crematorium before we were asked to leave.

We rested at the waiting hall, where all the bereaved kin were asked to remove their mourning clothing to symbolically avoid bad luck associated with death. We then feasted on roast pig meat that was presented by the sons-in-law as a tribute to the deceased. We then left and got back to the house, where final rites were made to allow her tablet to be placed at the ancestral altar temporarily.

She had lived a long and fruitful life, surrounded by many relatives and friends. May she finally rest in peace.

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