A Lay-Buddhist Hakka Funeral

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Original Chinese Language Article By: www.ctps.cn

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

The Meizhou area of north-east Guangdong province is home to the Hakka people (many of whom are Buddhist).  Hakka people are renowned for being hard-workers who spend their lives acquiring (and maintaining) the necessities of life in preparation for their eventual death and funeral.  Hakka people (following the Daoist idea of longevity) believe a person should lead a good life and in so doing, live for a hundred years.  As this is a matter of ‘face’, a Hakka person considers it a filial duty to acquire (and maintain) a good house and this struggle begins in youth.  A good house must possess a living room or hall for receiving guests that is divided into a lower and upper area.  The upper area serves as a clan temple (for people sharing the same surname) and is where good and charitable activities take place.  Hakka villages usually share a communal ancestral shrine that is hundreds of years old, and within which are preserved the relics of the deceased, accumulated over many generations. The upkeep of the ancestral shrine is supported by each individual in the village.  (Traditional Hakka funerals involve a person being buried for a year [or longer] before the body is exhumed.  The bones are then cleaned by the family as an act of filial piety, and respectfully placed into a burial urn, which is then placed on the appropriate shelf in the ancestral temple, often accompanied by a photograph of the deceased).  Furthermore, for a Hakka man, it is important not to use the dowry he has received from the family of his bride (which must be kept for the most dire of emergencies) – so that he can live a life of hundreds years before being buried with these objects.  Only then is he considered worthy of ‘leaving’ this world.  From a young age many Hakka people join religious groups, be they Buddhist or Christian, etc.  This is not because Hakka people are overly religious (as a rule Hakka people are more practical than religious), but rather as an insurance policy for a place to live in the after-life (should such an after-life exist).  When a Hakka person dies, his or her relatives will spend money to gain ‘karmic-merit’ for the deceased in the after-life, even taking-out loans to do so.  The above photograph shows Buddhist Hakka people showing respect for the Buddha and for the deceased – and performing the appropriate rituals to gain karmic-merit.

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.

Original Chinese Language Article:

http://www.ctps.cn/PhotoNet/product.asp?proid=712057

客家佛教俗家丧礼一瞥

位于广东梅州的客家人,历来比较注重自己的“身后事”,为了自己在死后能够风光些,从年轻的时候就开始努力拼搏,建的房子一定要有客厅,分上下厅,上厅就是用来安放自己做“好事”的地方,大姓人家,村里都有一个集体祠堂,老人百年后都安放在那儿。而有些姑娘的陪嫁物品就是一口棺材,一直放到自己百年,据说这样可以“搏”寿年。很多客家人在年轻时就加入各种各样的宗教协会,如佛教、天主教、基督教等,他们并不一定是出于宗教信仰,而是为了死后有个“娘家”,为自己善后,客家人平时都很节约,可一到老人百年,家里人都会花很多钱为老人办“好事”,甚至举债也不惜。

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