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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bian Kee 2012 [Birthday] Prayers

Bian Kee is actually a celebration/prayer service held on the birthday of the person who has passed away.  The prayer service is consequently held over a period of 3 years from the time the person passed away.

Today is my Pa's birthday [18th day of the eleventh month] and is also the second time we had the prayers after his passing on 23 October 2011.  The first held 2 months after he passed away.  The 3rd Bian Kee [also the last] will be held on 20 December 2013.  It is believed that it is good to hold this kind of prayer service for 3 years after a person passed away.  What is the actual 'good' reason, I do not know.  But it serves as a memorial service for the beloved who has passed on.

Here are the offerings and arrangement of them which we prepared for this year prayer service in memory of  my Pa's birthday on 30 December 2012.




Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mother's Birthday 2012

Today is my Ma's birthday which corresponds to the 13th day of the lunar ninth month.  She hasn't been well for the past two weeks and we did not intend to celebrate it in an elaborate way.  Yesterday, I informed one of my brothers about it, so that he can come over to the house.


I baked a small cake and prepared an 'Ang Pow' for her.  Today is a Saturday and most of us are off by afternoon.  My mum had a bowl of sesame ginger oil mee suah with pig's kidney, liver, meatballs and egg.  This is her favourite noodle supposed to be good for birthday signifying longevity.

My brother came with the family with a cheesecake from Secret Recipe.  Almost all of her children and grandchildren were in the house.  She was happy cutting the cake after we sang the Happy Birthday song and she received red packet 'Ang Pows' from her children.  Her sister in-law [my Pa's sister] also came over.









Here are some of the photos taken today.  Overall, she was happy eventhough there wasn't any grand dinner.  Most important is her children are with her today.






She wasn't prepared to take any photos otherwise she would had her hair cut and style.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Pa 1st Anniversary Prayers [Twee Ni]


 Exactly a year has passed, today is my Pa's 1st Anniversary [according to Chinese Lunar Calendar] after his passing on 24th October 2011.  Because this year is a lunar year with an extra month, the first year's memorial service has to be exactly after 12 months and not according to both calendars.  The actual day next year will be on 28th of September [lunar calendar].  However, prayers will still be conducted on the actual date this year which corresponds to November 11th.

We called this occasion as 'Twee Ni' in Hokkien dialect.   I supposed the way the memorial service is carried out differs from areas, clans and religious practices.  Since we are from Penang, it is slightly different from other states and even just across the Penang channel [Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam].  Anyway, this is how we had the 'Twee Ni' service [with the advice from the Taoist priest 'Sai Kong'] which also include a service for third year's anniversary.  This is the usual practice in Penang whereby the 1st and 3rd anniversaries are subsequently held on the same day [maybe to make it less troublesome] with a change of offerings and prayers.

For today's service according to Taoist rites and rituals, preparations has to be made according to advice from the Taoist priest who conducted the funeral service.

We have to remind the Taoist priest about a month before the day and he will list down the must have items for the day such as:  13 bowls of dishes, 13 bowls of rice, 13 cups of tea/wine, 1 pair each of mohor chien and  mee suah chien.  Mi Koo, 3 types of fruits [apples/oranges/pineapple etc], kuih-kuih like glutinous rice kuih [blue colour if deceased was a male and yellow for a female], huat kuih, bee koh, ang ku and spring onion water etc.  2 sets of Seng Lay [roast duck/chicken/pork], whole roast pig is optional according to affordability of the family.  Bit chien is needed if whole roast pig is offered.  2-3 bags of folded joss paper [kim and gin], 2 bags of ong seng chi, 2 paper boxes of some paper paraphenalia [1 each from the sons and daughters].
  
Relations can also prepare offering items such as fruits or 'seng lay'
 This altar which was set up for 1 year's prayers in the house on the funeral day will be dismantled and every removed, discarded or burnt.  The rituals are carried out by the Taoist priest.




The correct placement of the tables of offerings is  in front of the old ancestral tablet which will be replaced during the 3rd year's prayers.  A new ancestral tablet was made before this day and will be placed on the main altar usually by the eldest son in the family.
  



 
 
 
The Taoist priest will be in yellow robe for the first year's prayers and the family members are gathered behind while the chants the prayers.
After the 1st year's prayers, the boxes of joss papers, paper paraphenalia items, all the leftover items from the temporary altar, my Pa's belongings, clothes are burnt before the  offerings are removed and changed to prepare for 3rd year's prayers.
 
 
When these items are been burnt, the family members will walk in a circle following the priest.  The eldest daughter with drip the spring onion water while moving in the circle.
The family members were told to wash their face and hands outside the house before entering the house.

THIRD ANNIVERSARY PRAYER SERVICE

After the first year's service, part of the items such as half of the cooked dishes , rice, seng lay, kuihs, fruits and candles were removed to be replaced by new ones.  The items removed [such as the various kuihs] can be eaten immediately as the family were given some time to rest and prepare before the priest commence the 3rd year's prayers.  Here are the setup for 3rd year's service.
 
 
 
 
 
 
With the placement of the new ancestral tablet, it signifies that my Pa are now united with our ancestors and this will be the main altar for ancestral worship in the family house.   A feather duster is used by the priest to dust off parts of the hall and the family will have to conduct a minor spring cleaning especially in the hall.  After which the 'Ang Chye' has to be put up at the front door for 3 days.

 Ist Anniversary Prayers in Video
  3rd Anniversary Prayers in Video
Prayer Services in Video