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THE CULTURE AND CUSTOM OF THE CHINESE COMMUNITIES: DEATH - DURING A DEATH

DEATH: DURING A DEATH

The Chinese communities hold on strictly to their customs concerning death, in which each custom has its own meaning. When a death occurs the corpse is cleansed and bathed to give final recognition to the dead. The corpse is smeared with perfume and madeup, with the purpose of giving to the dead a nice scent especially when it is in the other world. The corpse is also dressed up in beautiful attire normally the one worn during the wedding ceremony. Hence, it is the responsibility of the Chinese to keep their wedding attire to be worn again when they die. The dead is also adorned with accessories, especially ladies. The corpse is placed in a wooden coffin with beautiful carvings. To the rich, the carving is coated with metal to show the dead status while still alive.

When a death occurs, family members, relatives and friends are required to cry or mourn the dead. The cries must be loud when the coffin containing the corpse is placed in the living room until ushered to the cemetery for burial. Normally the cries must be accompanied with words of praises of the dead good deeds. Words uttered that portray the dead bad behaviour are forbidden as the dead soul will not be peaceful and that the dead will be tortured. The cries of family members especially parents or the seniors are better and encouraged. Some Chinese communities settle the dead debt to calm the dead and so as not to be questioned in the other world.

The dead family members attire is like a robe, black in colour, complete with hat. They also put on outer netted clothing made of jute or coconut husk fibre. When the coffin is ushered in a special lorry various papers coated in metal are scattered along the route. According to the Chinese belief this is to ensure that the soul can find its way home guided by the coated papers.

Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negara, Selangor

Lot 22.2 Tingkat 22, Wisma MBSA,
Persiaran Perbandaran,
40000 Shah Alam Selangor Darul Ehsan.
Tel : 03-5510 2664
Fax : 03-5510 2839

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