Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Elegant Farewell to a Woman of Beauty and Strength

My aunt's funeral was elegant simplicity with subdued Christian tones. The family had done away with traditional sack cloth, muslin mourning clothes with unsewn hems ,beating of the chest and wailing. It was a quiet and gentle farewell to a dearly beloved member of the Christian community.

Instead each of the children just had a white muslin sash around their waist. They wore a white collarless t-shirt and a pair of black pants.

The grandchildren from the only married daughter wore blue sashes. The grandchildren from sons wore the traditional yellow sashes.

Arrival of the coffin at the Church was quiet and without fanfare. There was no brass band.

The sermon by the young Methodist pastor was about tears and strength of a person. It was a very meaningful sermon for all those present. Jesus wept twice in the Bible.

Part of the funeral service was a choir made up of Women's Wing of the Church . These ladies are ever ready to sing for a dearly beloved Church elder - my Third Aunt had been close to the Methodist Church from the first day of her school at Yuk Ying Girls' School in the 1930's under Mrs. Mary Hoover until her demise.

This is not a good photo as I took it from a long shot and it was rather dark on the stage of the beautiful Methodist Sin Fu Yuan Tang. The Third Son of Third Uncle (Colin) gave a touching but affectionate eulogy of his late mother peppered with a pinch of humour and a dash of serious meaningful social overtones. "Though Ma is gone we shall remember her always in our hearts..she was well read and behind her back we called her Dr. Lu..."

Apart from relatives and church friends a group of gracious lawyers came to the funeral even though it was a working day. My aunt had a son and a grandson who are lawyers. In many parts of Malaysia lawyers would turn out full force to attend the funerals of the family members of their legal fraternity as a show of solidarity. Thus the presence of part of the Sibu legal fraternity at this funeral service was very appreciated especially when this group of lawyers are from different religious,racial and political backgrounds.

Prayers before the final sealing of the grave.

The Sibu Methodist Church provides services for its members from the cradle to the grave. This man is a member of the Funeral Management Committee (his tie has a cross and his pocket has the committee emblem) who makes sure that the funeral is well taken care of. The committee is very efficient and professional. the bereaved family does not have to worry about any thing at all.

Flowers and floral arrangements mean a lot to many during a funeral and especially to my late San Ning. She was a grand dame who appreciated beauty and elegance. And during the funeral the flowers and floral arrangements were symbols of love and affection for her.

My late San Ning would have approved of this beautiful arrangement on her grave.

Usually many wreaths would be presented to the bereaved family during a funeral and these would be left at the graveside. Here is one that is very tastefully arranged with black and white ribbons and backed by China made rattan stand.

Before the grave is sealed completely the photo of the deceased must be framed by a piece of red cloth to indicate that the deceased has just been buried. And this photo will be brought home by the eldest son.

This is always the saddest part of a Foochow funeral when the photo is brought back home framed by the red cloth. All the other siblings will make a line behind the eldest son after bidding farewell for the last time to the beloved departed.

The post funeral step is a meal provided by the bereaved family to thank the relatives and friends who attended the funeral service and accompanied the coffin to the cemetery. This is called the "old rice" or lau puong. Most people would like to attend this meal because eating it, according to our Foochow tradition, would mean that one could also live as long a life as the deceased. But for many of us it was to also meet up with the family members after the funeral for one last moment before going our separate ways (away from Sibu). During the meal the bereaved family will officially thank the attendees for their presence. They will do the three traditional bows or Kiik Kiing. (not the kowtow or kerk tow)

The meal was excellent and my late aunt would have selected such a menu very carefully to make her relatives happy. She was such a meticulous person making sure that everything was in place. And Shareton was one of her favourite restaurants.

Here are some of the 8 dishes of the well selected menu. The first dish was the Foochow Style Peace Egg Soup - a must as it conjure up good wishes for all present at the lunch. I was not sure at first if it was appropriate for me to take photos of the meal but after three dishes I took out my camera for the "scoop".

This was followed by the hot combination dish which came out in style and in a huge portion. The sharks' fin soup also impressed the diners.

Now this head of semah (steamed Foochow style) was fresh and tasty.

The brocoli with mushroom dish.

She would have approved of all these.....She would have smiled her lovely smile and place her hands gracefully on her lap.

(My apologies to all if I have inadvertently written something untoward.)

2 memories:

Gaharuman said...

i like the simple funeral. it shows an elegant lady with an elegant final goodbye!

sarawakiana said...

Thank you. Have a great week ahead!!


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