Thursday, October 02, 2008

Moving House the First Foochows' Ways

Sourced from Google Images. The Chinese words are for Blessing - Longevity - health - Harmony or Tranquility - The packing is very auspicious and therefore attracts a lot of buyers. In Chinese homes and especially Foochow homes eating is always associated with these four words. We go to great extent to bring food to the table which augur these four words . We have therefore Tai Ping eggs soup (Peace soup)and Foochow Meesua which augurs longevity. We also have Birds' Nest Soup which brings good health. The dessert 8 Treasure Glutinous Rice helps bring in blessings and this is only one of the very many dishes associated with "blessing".(Different dialectic groups have their own dishes for these auspicious words).

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I had a good lesson about moving to a new house a few weeks ago.

My aunt reminded her folks to pack a few most important things besides their own personal effects. They were moving from their farm house to a new bungalow in a hew suburban area.

She started packing some important items to bring to the new home.

She said that these things are representative of "good luck" or indeed they are the auspicious items to bring from the old home to the new home so that prosperity and harmony will reign.

First of all she told me, an urn of rice must go to the new house. She had her son buy good fragrant rice to fill an urn (or rice jar) to bring to the newly bought house. She said that that she must follow the jar lovingly and bring it into the new kitchen. It must be the first item to bring into the house on house moving day. This would mean that their rice jar would always be full ie prosperity will be theirs.

The exact number of bowls and chopsticks reflecting the number in the household must also be brought from the old farm to new house. She had said that her daughter in law who would be staying with her had said that they had all the new things and crockery for their new house. But my aunt said that these were the bowls from the days of her husband and when the children were young. And they have been touched by loving hands and a lot of blessings have been filled in the bowls.

She then packed her old utensils like the kuali brush(tian cheng) and the old fashioned tian ter or Foochow Ladle. These are her beloved kitchen items and she would not part with them. Her daughter in law had reminded her that they would have non stick pans and the huge Chinese wok for the Foochow Stove would no longer be used so such accompanying utensils would not be necessarily. But my aunt insisted that these had to come with her too as they have been hers for so long. She would love to just keep them.

And finally she took down the old black and white photos of her father-in-law and mother-in-law to bring to the new house. She wanted their spirits to be well taken care of and "moved" to the new house. These two photos must have the most important position on the wall facing the main door. This is what she considered "honour" and "respect" for the dead. Her father-in-law had bought the land which the whole family had worked on and prospered. Recently their land was sold to merge with a new housing estate. Their compensation was more than adequate for her and her children and her children's children.

She said that an old era of "big" rooms and big gardens has passed on and she has to live leisurely and peacefully. Perhaps she could see at least one of her grandsons getting married.

She continued to tell me that at first light on the day of the auspcious house moving she and the family would leave the old house by saying to the elders that they were moving. She then said that she would also say a prayer for the whole family in a Christian way to ask for God's blessing for the house removal.

She told me that she was very blessed because her daughter-in-law allowed her to make decisions on which pastor to invite for their house warming and blessing. She had already invited about 50 people to come for the dinner. The only thing she would not have was fire crackers. She said that she remembered how happy her husband was when they had their first wooden stilted house built on their farm. The fire crackers were at least 20 feet long or 2 tong. (Foochow measurement and I assume it is 10 feet per tong or more or less.)

Her respect for those who had gone before her is well know to many relatives and she had honoured her own parents. She had nursed her mother-in-law until she passed away peacefully. And for all her contributions to her husband's family she has today gained two generations of respectable family members. Her faith and her church work has also contributed to her success as a wife and mother. To me she will also be the wise and caring aunt who had worked so hard all her life and faced all the obstacles with a strong Christian spirit like that propounded by the Apostle Paul.

I feel rather sad that some of the old ways are also leaving us as our elders are going one by one and we will have no more sources of reference for good family practices. Our memories are no longer so good and there are too few documents to teach us. Furthermore due to the various calls of duty many have also found these old ways troublesome and even meaningless.

But on the other hand why are we so intrigued by Feng Shui?

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