2012
Jun
9

Exhumation Rituals

2

By Claire Leow and Gan Su-Lin

With the permission of Toh Yong Soon, we share the exhumation rituals for his maternal great grandfather, Chen Zhong Lue (d. 3 Sept 1926), buried at Kopi Sua.

moving house: prayers for the dead (Photo: Gan Su Lin)

 

Click below for the video links:

The pre-exhumation ritual starts with prayers for the earth deity. Here, the grandsons and grand-daughters follow the guide of a Taoist priest and recite prayers. The ritual was chosen at a certain day and time. For instance, those born in the Year of the Goat and aged 58 were discouraged. The actual exhumation will also follow specific guidelines.

 

moving house: offerings of four (Photo: Gan Su Lin)

 

Next, the ritual continues with prayers for the dearly beloved. Here, the grandsons and grand-daughters and maternal great grandson Toh Yong Soon follow the guide of a Taoist priest and recite prayers. He informs the dead of all the important dates, and where he will be moved to. The ritual was performed after special fruit and foods were presented to the deceased by the order of four. After the prayers, the wine (in 2 red cups) were offered to the Earth and the Afterworld. The family bows four times (for Heaven, Earth, Mankind and Unity), before burning offerings such as Hell Money.

moving house (Photo: Gan Su Lin)

 

moving house (Photo: Gan Su Lin)

 

The pre-exhumation ritual continues with prayers sending the earth deity home.

In the last rite, the descendants recite prayers informing the dearly beloved a good place has been found for him to be re-interred, and the new address is given to him. He is informed his descendants will help him in his journey. Joss sticks are lit and prayers said before the first strike to the soil signifying exhumation will take place. No one is allowed to view this, and we all turn our backs to the grave. The video ends as we turn our backs.

 

This is a photo before the rite ends and the gravedigger prepares to break the soil with a single strike.

 

To shouts of “huat ah!” (prosper!), Hell Money is thrown and the family cheers on.

 

Saying goodbye (Photo: Gan Su Lin)

Shared with the permission of the family of Chen Zhong Lue (d. 3 Sept 1926), buried at Kopi Sua. The actual exhumation cannot be recorded.

 

(Video and text by Claire Leow; photos by Gan Su Lin)