Funeral arrangements

The Qing Ming festival has passed not long ago and it is undoubtedly one Chinese festival that I quite dislike. I do not hate it altogether, but when it arrived, I feel dreadful. I know that Qing Ming is all about visiting of graves of our loved ones and showing of filial piety but try:

1) standing under the hot sun
2) coupled with heat from the burning fire
3) being stuck in a traffic crawl forever
4) having to visit 3 burial plots at 3 different sites (and going thru the jam all the way)
5) having to bear mosquito bites and exposure to dust
6) having to clear overgrown grass and bushes which covers the entire tombstone!

all at the same time for the entire morning and you will know why I dread it.

Which is also why, every year, when we are stuck in the car trying to get from one site to another, we discussed about — erm, funeral arrangements. My family has always been quite open about this topic, maybe because it was because we believe that sooner or later, death will come.

So, sorta asked if my parents will agree to cremation instead of burial. I think (correct me if i’m wrong) cremation will make life easier for the ‘next generation’ (ie me and my brother) because we do not need to go through so many rituals. In addition to that, we are not even familiar with these rituals.

You know, when you do ‘offerings’ to your ancestors or Buddhist dieties, there are certain things that you must follow? There is a fixed way that you should lay your chicken or comb of bananas on the altar – if you lay them incorrectly, it’s either not good/your ancestors won’t ‘get’ your offerings.

Well, how are we supposed to know all these? So, rather than face problems in the future, we find a simpler way. Anyway, an uncle who passed away recently (he was a Buddhist but then converted to Christianity) was cremated and had his ashes scattered in the sea. So, we are really pondering this option. Otherwise, if I cannot bear scattering my parents’ ashes in the sea, I just bring them home la.

Another point would be: since my brother is not in M’sia, who will be visiting their graves during Qing Ming? (Traditionally, sons are supposed to visit the graves – married daughters are NOT SUPPOSED to do so cos it is believed that by visiting your own parents’ graves, you will bring misfortune to your hubby’s family) Okay-la, that is if I ever get married.

But another reason why I am not totally into any religion (although I think myself as a Buddhist) now is to keep my options open. If I marry a Christian, I go Christian. If I marry a Malay, I convert to Islam. Have to follow husband mah! And if I’m not mistaken, you can’t really burn joss sticks or consume food that has been offered on the altar (if you are a Christian).

And the luckily for me, my mom is okay with the cremation idea. But dad is a bit old fashioned. When we queried him on the reason; he gave a hilarious answer: He is afraid that he might feel painful when being burnt. We were like — if you are dead, you won’t feel pain!

Anyway, who out there likes being buried alive? One of Xeus’ story in Dark City will remind you of the feeling.

So, what would you choose? Cremation or burial?


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