Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Believe it or not

In this posting I am veering away from my Methodist Foochow back ground to relate some incidents associated with "going back to China and spirits from the other world".

When China opened up in the 70's some of the my relatives began to travel "home" to spring clean their ancestors' graves and to donate some money to rebuild or renovate their ancestral homes to the delight of their mainland relatives. The flow of these homegoers so to speak was quite limited and travelling documents were not so easy to obtain. Only older folks or senior citizens were allowed to leave Malaysia. But then , at that time, I thought it was very generous of the Malaysian government to allow such home visits.

An uncle went back, carrying all the pictures of his deceased parents. This was to "return" the spirits to China. He arrived in Fujian and placed the photos on the altar properly. He bowed to heaven and earth and said very respectfully, "My honorable elders, you are now safely back in China, coming all the way from Nanyang. Please be at peace and bless all who are here in this household. Next week I will return to Sarawak. I have brought you home because I feel that there will be more descendants in Sarawak to look after your spirits. You will be well served. Whatever you need, you can ask them."

I am not sure if this is still considered a convention or norm but something happened to his wife upon his coming back to Sarawak. It was claimed that he carried the same suitcase back to Sarawak, the same one he used to carry the photos. Apparently, Kuan Yin , the goddess, went into his suitcase and arrived together with him at his home. His wife was very disturbed and in order to follow the wishes of the goddess, she became a vegetarian and put up an altar for her. After that, she had peace and good health.

Whenever she ate a piece of chicken or a slice of pork, she would throw up. In this way she has been keeping her peace with the goddess and survive to this day. According to her, the goddess has been blessing her because of her abstinence and her obedience to her. For the goddess, she will never convert to another religion.

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