Chinese Observances

“In the old days, the Southeast Asian migrant Chinese were inundated with many beliefs. Beliefs that’ll bring them luck, prosperity and happiness. With beliefs, sprang the many superstitions observed. More so when affirmations were rhymed into ditties and sayings that tickles the fancy of the larger crowd. For those who doesn’t attend schools, these ditties acted as guides in the school of life, for they held many truths. Whereas others, especially when related to food, sounds more like marketing 101.

The Chinese of Southeast Asia practices a strange mix of religion which falls into a larger cauldron they identify as Buddhism, which again lives below an infinite space known as the Sky God, or ‘Thni Kong”. Though many are now baptised, Buddhism was and still is, the supreme god to these believers, Taoism and it’s many practices and deities, as the guide to rites and rituals to attain Nirvana, and Confucianism, as their gospel to communal living.

Especially during auspicious occasions, birth, marriage, full moon, or new year, these curious concoction of three-in-one cocktail comes into play. Elements that does not conform to their practices were silently removed, and others desecrated with red paper. Even food was not spared.

On the table during reunion dinner, which is usually held during the eve to usher in the first day of Chinese New Year (or the coming of Spring), all kinds of meats, vegetables and condiments is a must. That to the Chinese signifies abundance as it harnesses positive energy. (For as long as you can tolerate the tediousness that goes into it’s preparation.) Before the clock struck midnight, one would have assumed that their abode has been spring-cleaned and decorated with auspicious objects, including their cars and compound, and elements that suggest bad luck or ‘suay’ are hidden inside storerooms, especially brooms and sharp objects including kitchen knives, never to be seen till the 15 days of Chinese New Year ends. This covers plants with leaves that shapes like daggers as well. And they even have preferred colours. Red sits on top of the list, followed by yellow.

Throughout Chinese New Year, the sounds of fire crackers are heard, in the belief that the noise would ward off evil spirits. Charity is encouraged, sworn words refrained, new clothes worn, animosity discouraged, sweets served, and the most menial of work especially the sweeping of homes, were halted. Such are the ways of the Chinese.

Throughout history, these observations became habitual and that in turn manifest as traditions attached to their beliefs. To identify one as a Chinese is to observe these traditions and beliefs which are related to Buddhism. As they serve themselves with a wide array of food and dishes, so too did they bedeck the altars of their Gods with abundance, with a few exceptions or add ons. Prayers, paper effigies, and joss sticks, as the intermediary or points of transfer between heaven and earth. All for the sake of prosperity, luck and happiness.

But how many of these believers actually attain prosperity, happiness and blessed with good luck throughout the year, one ponders? Can we be certain that in a famine stricken country, and the many whose cars succumbed the flood, families who were forced to bunk inside stadiums because their apartments caved in, and every passenger inside a plane that crashes, lax observances?”