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.
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