Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Funeral Thai Style

Thai Funeral
So.. we disturb our neighbors right out of their sleep in the middle of midnight from the loud chanting in the deck of HDBs in Singapore and our deceased’s spirit takes the elevator up the block to pay us a visit in our dreams. Here in Thailand where Temples are as abundant as Seven Eleven, is where Thais hold their funeral ceremonies. We burn paper money, we burn the paper house, the paper Mercedes, paper credit cards and even paper women for our departed. The ashes not only reach the afterlife but most residents in our estate will receive them as well in their bedrooms, saving it probably for their own afterlives in Basement-18 (Chinese Hell). Here… no burning. Just simple chanting from 7.30pm to 8.00pm. However, some Chinese families will practice like we do in Singapore, contributing happily to global warming.

We do the watch for several days, staying awake all night chatting, playing cards, eating and drinking. Here, they leave the dead alone after dark and return tomorrow to the temple after 4.00pm in preparation for the evening prayer. Why no night watch I asked. They don’t want to see no ghost they answered. Only rarely, do Thais practice the night watch.

To rent the temple hall for the dead cost THB $2000 per day. And the most interesting part is that they keep the body in a metal refrigerator with a viewing glass. Thais believe the recently parted is not self aware that they are dead until the 3rd day. And that’s the day when most paranormal activities occur within the families when the departed returns for hair raising visit. They don’t take elevator, they float right into your rooms via your front door from the main street.

His mother, talked sadly about the events yesterday. How strange of him to be eating whatever he could during breakfast, as if knowing it was his last meal. How strange of him to be visiting grandma extra frequently during the final week, as if he knew he could no longer do so anymore. How strange the wave that came for the three children, rising like a grabbling hand to pull him, the last to leave the water. The rescuers thought it odd that he came back on the shore perpendicular to the sea, arms stretched out straight in line with the whole body. How odd he was not on the shore one moment but appeared suddenly as the next wave receded as if some mysterious force had invisibly pulled him up. How extraordinary that drowning victims normally takes a few hours to days to be discovered but not him. As the chanting ended and the friends and relatives left, his aunt raised the family dog right up to his portrait. They spoke, they stroked his face on the picture glass, the dog stared maybe to know there will be no more leaping around his legs as he walks in the door. I started my engine, the last car leaves. The temple empties, little boy, rest in peace.

1 comment:

thaistory said...

Recently I attended a Thai funeral, too. It was a suicide case.