Public Mourning Rituals

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Public Mourning Rituals

Public Mourning Rituals


Attitudes and beliefs on death and afterlife are quite same among Chinese people of late Imperial Chinese culture and Chinese culture of today. The continuing traditions of ritualistic burials sheds light on one way the society can be linked culturally (Lai 1983).

Public Mourning Rituals In Chinese Deaths

The sequence in which ritual is performed is laid out perfectly and begins with public notification that the death has occurred. As soon as the death has occurred women in presence of death must announce death by wailing at top of her lungs, such wailings, as documented by Watson were not voluntary (Jones 1997). Along with informal announcement of death was the formal one where white banners and blue lanterns are placed around abode and along doorway. Some of formal notices were voluntary in part of China, whereas in some parts they were also mandatory.

The next step in funerary rites would be transfer of material goods to dead. Things like paper clothes, cardboard houses, furniture and servants and other things dead might need in afterlife would be transferred into world of dead by burning them in the big pot (Thompson 1998). Food was presented as an offering to deceased and afterwards, mourners would partake in food.

1.  Foods are presented as soon as person dies and once again during ceremonial coffining of body. Rice is the crucial part of Chinese diet and rice balls and other food products (roast pork and such) are usually placed on top of his/her coffin to accompany dead on their journey. Parts of ceremony are used to separate living from dead, for instance, breaking of bowls to break ties between dead and his/her descendants. After breaking of bowls, family members must insure that deceased does not return upset, so belongings of deceased must be symbolically distributed among his/her heirs using food on top of coffin.

2.  After coffining of body, food is presented to coffin at least twice the day by daughter-in-law of deceased. These offerings are made until coffin is buried. Sometimes, offerings continue even after burial.

3.  A farewell feast is giving either day before, or on day of burial. This tradition is to ensure that transformation from being deceased into an ancestor is complete. Prized offerings consist of either pig heads or whole pigs along with rice. Along with farewell feast for deceased, some offerings are given to hungry ghosts whom would usually steal ...
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