Preparation or taboo?
The Chinese imperial dynasties and nobility of the past were known to pre-plan decades ahead; hence, the idea of pre-planning is not actually even new among eastern cultures. It was thought to be an auspicious and culturally respectable thing to do. In the past, the imperial elite went as far as constructing their tombs years ahead to safeguard political power and secure dynasties through spiritual beliefs.
Among the ordinary folk, the younger generation would gift their elders with coffins to wish them longevity and good fortune! The coffins would be kept at home as a reminder to appreciate life and one’s own mortality, as well as a symbol of filial piety. When the time came, these coffins would actually be put to use during funerals and interments. Though it may seem foreign to us today, such practices are actually still observed in some rural parts of China.
As life expectancy improved with modern medicine and healthcare, people became less accepting of the idea of pre-planning and began seeing it as more of a taboo and “tempting fate”. Such ideas are nothing more than superstitions at best and it doesn’t change the fact we will eventually expire.
Although less traditional or culturally significant in present times, pre-planning is done out of consideration and care for loved ones and is considered a prudent exercise rooted in logic and economic sensibilities. Thankfully with education and exposure, the negative perception associated with pre-planning is beginning to shift as more and more are beginning to see its importance.
we will become a star in the sky, becoming one among a sea of twinkling lights. We can always see our loved ones and friends in the night sky, so we won’t be alone
there is a traditional proverb for worship, that it is hoped that people should drink water and think of the source, and to pay careful attention to one’s parents’ funerary rites and to worship one’s ancestors. The children and descendants must remember that they owe it to the sacrifices of their ancestors that they get to enjoy the shade of the great trees and the fruits of their labour!
So this is what my social media accounts will look like after I’m gone! Although there are still some who will avoid talking about death, people are beginning to accept the inevitable and face it positively and pre-plan with changing times. However in modern society,...
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Many people tend to think they don’t need to have their pictures taken or they dislike the notion because they are too old. Later however, when the time comes to prepare for the funeral, there simply isn’t a suitable or presentable photo that can be used as a funeral portrait.
“The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”
Nirvana Center Kuala Lumpur built their unique columbarium that is touted to be unlike any other found in Malaysia – the Rhyme of Life, embodying American journalist and novelist Chuck Palahniuk’s quote above.
Every ritual at a funeral is a way to accept the fact that we have lost a loved one, and the loss of a loved one is an unavoidable life experience for everyone and it is also a process.
In some cultures, death is a taboo topic.
What’s more, to talk about death and money in the same conversation would raise suspicion of greed and distrust.
Malaysia is a multi-racial country, with the main ethnic groups being Malay, Chinese and Indian. For the ethnic Chinese, there are various religious funeral rites such as Buddhist, Taoist and Christian, and Islamic and Hindu rites for the other ethnic groups. Different ethnic groups and religions have different cultural practices, religious ideologies, beliefs and values, making Malaysia’s funeral culture appear diverse in many ways.