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GENERAL GUIDE OF FUNERAL CEREMONY

Offering Ceremony in Funeral

Those of Buddhism or Ancestor Worship often make many offering ceremonies during the funeral. We have read ceremonies of coffin closure, coffin move and coffin landed. Now, after burial, there are more ceremonies made as follows:

Tomb port opening

+ This varies per local to make 3 days from the death or from the burial. In the ceremonial dictionary, there is no three-day ceremony but tomb port opening, including preliminary ceremony for the time to bring home the ancestral tablet after burial; to-repeat ceremony follows when falling on a yang day and the-three ceremonies if the burial day is yin. It is simplified nowadays to make just one ceremony for the whole three and naming this three-day or tomb port opening ceremony. This is to count three days after the burial because in many cases the corpse is still put in freezing room passing four or five day and the funeral is held four or five days from the death. ** . ** On such day, relatives repair the tomb, coating with grass, clearing drainage ditch… burning incense and paperwork… Included in the offerings there is a small bamboo ladder of seven or night steps as following male or female respectively… This ceremony generates from the conceptions as follows:

+ A person now living peacefully, suddenly all activities are ceased.

+ Having seen relative, when coffin closure, suddenly no longer meeting again.

+ Currently living in the world, now dying, the corpse goes to the yang world, the soul wandering leaves the corpse, yin and yang are completely isolated. After ceremonies of funeral cloth delivery, preliminary, to-repeat, the-three another followed that is offering one to pray for the peace of soul and port.

Weekful ceremony

+ For Vietnamese families, meal is the warmest and happiest time. If some members are late, everyone tries to wait for in order to eat the meal altogether at the same time for gladness. Now suddenly a member part for the long trip and never comes back. The tradition of rice offering generates in this situation. Before meal time, relatives respectfully present a bowl of rice and some normal dishes, offering what going to eat at home. After burning incense, a pair of chop sticks is put in the middle of the bowl, wine to fill in a cup, prayers and water to fill in a glass… Following Buddhism, the soul of a dead person must go through 7 times of judgment, each time is a week to pass a castle in the hell then the soul can be escaped. The tradition of weekful offering is done in the weekdays, from the death: 7, 21, 49, 100 days. To realize final weekful ceremony (49 days) and the mourning one (100 days) requires not to choose date, just done as regulated in the family.

+ + No one can choose a date to die, therefore from the time long ago until pressent, when the death anniversary comes, the ceremony is carried out even it falls on a very bad day. Is it reasonable if relatives coming back from afar as remembering the death anniversary, stepping into the house and seeing no smoke and quenching incense then sorrowfully leave the house? Funeral and offering is given date, relatives and friends who remember thus pay a visit, not waiting for invitation card like that of glad ceremony.

Burial second year ceremony (mourning clothing burnt)

+ + After two years from the date of the burial, a good date will be chosen for burial second year ceremony. This includes 3 ceremonies:

1. Tomb repair.

2. Mourning clothing burnt: funeral front-wear is stored, what belongs to funeral is destroyed (burnt), the ancestral tablet is moved to main altar, funeral altar is moved out, banners and attendee’s antithetical couplets are also removed to store at another place...

3. Ancestral tablet moving ceremony to the main room and announcement to ancestors. New ancestral tablet is ready, when mourning clothing burnt finishes, old tablet is also burnt. Then new tablet is moved together with incense holder and portrait all is to be placed on the main altar, on lower range.

Which ceremony is important ?

+ + Death anniversary ceremony: the traditions of every local all to consider the main ceremony is parental (father and mother of the top member in a family.)

+ + Funeral ceremony: varied in each local. Some respects 49 day ceremony while others think 100 day one worth. Some local once the three day ceremony finishes, that is nothing more. It is perhaps in the moment of funeral which is full of worry`, behaviour to relatives and friends and other attendees is insufficient, thus the ceremony of 3 days deemed important. This is the opportunity for the funeral family to repay thanks to those who have taken care of their parent in sickness and help the family to complete the funeral. Some local considers the first death anniversary (small acknowledgment) as important, other the second (big acknowledgement.)

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