Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The last day of the 6th month

Today is the last day of the 6th month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar
This signifies that the 7th month; which is the month for the Hungry Ghosts will be here at the strike of midnight tonight where the gates of Hell will be opened and the spirits will be released to roam the earth for a month.

We will be expecting more rain during this month; as I have heard, which is a sign of yin energy.
We will be seeing worships and joss sticks or burning of papers, offerings, food outside some of the houses and shops for the entire month as this is the typical Chinese custom to pay their respects and to appease the wandering souls.

They believe that in doing so, the spirits will not disturb them and grant them peace.

Our elders will remind us that it is best to stay at home when night falls during this time to avoid any supernatural encounters which can scare the younger ones or even lead to any mishaps/accidents.

Whether you believe it or not, it is best to listen to your elders and just take extra precaution yourself.

Some things are better left unknown and unperturbed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

UN-auspicious months for the elderly

I have noticed that recently there are a few funerals or wakes (obviously seen from the temporary canopies set outside some of the landed houses).

In fact, in my area alone, there's more than 3 already since last week.
When I drove around town or the island, I've seen a few too.

I remembered my mummy and granny used to tell us, that during certain months in the Lunar calendar, the elders are particularly sensitive towards them; especially those who are believers.
Those are considered 'dangerous' months for the elders; even more so if they are very ill and are admitted to the hospital.

I am sure many of us have heard of how stubborn our grandparents are about being admitted to the hospital or even going to the hospital to consult a doctor at one point or another in our life.

Why is this so, and what are the dangerous and so-called unauspicious months/time of the year?

According to Chinese superstition, there are two months in the Chinese Lunar Calendar which are the most risky.
The third month and the seventh month (in the Chinese Lunar Calendar)

The Third month is often known as the All souls or also known as Ching Meng month; where we go to the cemeteries and pay respect to our ancestors. (Christians and Catholics go to their annual cemetery pilgrimage in November; according to the normal calendar)

During the Third month of the Chinese calendar, it is believed that the souls are released and are allowed to roam around the cemeteries to see their loved ones.
However, they are only confined within the vicinities of the cemeteries and no further; although, it is not inevitable that some of the lost souls may wander further which is why the elders often take extra precautions.

If there is any elder in the family who is sick at this time, they are often cared for diligently and with extra precaution as their yang energy apparently is weaker at this time, which could result in their lives being taken away.
I remembered that I lost both my paternal grandparents during this time too; despite me not knowing this at that time.
I was told by my aunt and granny when they heard of the news and they mentioned that the Third Month is always very risky for elders; especially if they have been admitted to the hospitals.

It seems that the myth that hospital is dangerous for sick elders is backed up with the explanation that the Angel of Death and the 'Pun Kun' (the one who is responsible to lead those who have died to their next respectful destination) roam the grounds of this place which heals the sick.
Maybe most of the time, most of the names on their list is often stated as dying in the hospital or will be in the hospital as their last location?
The risk is when these netherworld officers are doing their job, they could spot another sick and ailing person in their bed and would check and decide that it's time for them to go and pick them up at the same time.
This was one of the explanation on some of the sudden deaths of the sick people in the hospital; despite them having recovered following their illnesses or their surgery.

Those who have underwent or are to undergo surgeries are even more at risk.

The other month which is even more feared is the Seventh month. Comparing the two months, the Third month is actually considered a mild risk as the souls are only allowed around the cemeteries' vicinity.
The Seventh Month; as we are all aware, is the month of the Hungry Ghosts Festival and it is the time where all Hell breaks loose! (not to be taken literally).
It is said that all the souls/spirits are released for a month's vacation and to roam the earth freely.

They are allowed to go anywhere they want for the whole month; giving them the opportunity to visit their loved ones.
It is a full month of freedom; of course, under the watchful and fearsome guard of the guardian officers who will be everywhere to control the situation and to ensure that no harm is done to the living.
Those who break the rules will be dragged back to hell; and will be punished severely.

It is also due to this fact, that the 7th month is considered so dangerous to the sick elders.
Usually a medium who predicts that the sick elder who can survive through the 3rd month may not be able to survive the 7th month.
The free roaming of the souls could lead to them dragging the sick folks to their deaths so that they are subject to reincarnation (sort of a headcount replacement thing)

That is the explanation for the higher number of deaths during the 7th month; not just among the elders, but also among those careless ones, i.e.: drowning, car accidents, etc.

If an elder is very sick and is in the hospital during this month, and they are advanced in their age, chances are they may be leaving their loved ones soon.

There are also plenty of taboos and strict rules to follow; as passed down by our elders for the 7th month which I am sure most of us have heard of.
(I will share more in an upcoming post)

Now, you know why our grandparents or old folks hate going or even the mere mention of the hospital?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

He came to see her...

In the year 2002, my paternal grandmother suffered pelvic injuries as a result of a bad fall and was admitted to the hospital for a minor surgery.

Shortly after her surgery, she was discharged and was allowed to go home again.
She often complained of pains and she had to be confined to bed rest most of the time; and a maid was hired to attend to her needs.
The maid slept in the same room as my grandmother since it was a larger room and also, because she had to be close to my grandmother to care for her.

Unknown to the maid, the room used to be the bedroom where both my grandparents stay; and the place where she is occupying was where my grandfather used to sleep.
My grandfather had left us 8 years before that.

My grandmother used to tell us that she sees 'Ah Kong'(what we call our grandfather) but since we were kids, we did not paid much attention to horror stories.

Shortly, grandmother did indeed pass away as she was found dead in her bed one morning and soon, arrangements were made for the funeral.

During this time, the maid came up to my mum and my aunt as they were chatting casually.
She mentioned that grandmother sometimes would mutter in her sleep; and she said, she did see a man sitting by her bedside.

She thought it was my uncle; who was probably worried about grandmother late at night.
Aunt was surprised and said, when was the last time she saw the guy and the maid replied that she recalled seeing him there for the longest time the night before her death.

After a while, she hesitantly paused and said, the man who was sitting by her bedside looked like the man in the photo sitting on top of the dressing table in the room.

Upon hearing this, both aunt and mum were quiet and the maid, who had already sensed it whispered, "Is he her husband?"

They nodded and told her gently, "But he's dead for more than 8 years now"

The maid was dumbfounded but she also added, "He must have loved her a great deal"
Both my aunt and mum agreed to this, as my grandfather has always been doting on my grandmother and I have never heard Ah Kong raised his voice at my Ah Ma.
He is a patient and mild-tempered man who rarely say much.

Needless to say, the maid refused to sleep in that room again although Mum assured her that grandfather meant no harm.
However, with grandmother's demise as well, I could really understand her pressure of facing TWO at the same time!!

Anyway, whatever they say about reincarnation, grandfather definitely did watch and guard grandmother all the time.

They are truly a good example of "Loving someone to the end of time"
It was an UN-dying love (no pun intended)...

I pray that Grandpa and grandma may rest in peace...

They can see dead people?

Is it true that people who are dying can usually see dead people/ghostly apparitions/spirits/lost souls?

I have often heard spine-tingling stories how people who are very sick and yet claiming that they can see some dead relatives or spirits around them.
After that, they just pass away.
Can this be explained?

Some say this is due to their approaching time to the end of their lives; and to join the netherworld.
Some say that when a person is about to die, their soul lights dim and are more approachable by spirits who often roam the earth.
Some say it is the decreasing yang energy and the increasing yin energy which leads to this phenomenon...

But what is the truth?
I am not sure myself but I have some stories to share as well....

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bull Head and Horse Face

As mentioned in the previous post, the Angel of Death comes in many forms according to the different beliefs and religions; and as believed by the religious folks themselves.
The Chinese version of the Angel of Death is the more popularly known Bull Head and Horse Face; the two soldiers of these appearances who appear with a trident in their hands and probably some heavy metal chains when they perform their duties to collect a dying person at their deathbeds.
The Chinese called them 'Ngau Tau Ma Min' (cantonese), 'Gu Tau Beh Bin' (Hokkien), 'Niu Tou Ma Mian' (Mandarin)

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They were believed to be the messengers from the King of Hell (Yan Luo Wang); and follow the orders from his majesty himself who guards the book of life and death and gives instructions to his soldiers or messengers to perform their duties when the inscribed person's name appears when their time is due.
(This is from what I have heard from my grandmother and some elderly folks)

After the messengers have collected the dying person back to Hell, they will await their judgement by the King before deciding their next location or their reward/punishment. There are 10 judges who are also known as the Kings of Yama where the sinful person will need to go through if they are found guilty, etc.

I have shared on the stages of hell earlier in this blog; which was based on my visit to the famous Haw Par Villa in Singapore.

Now, how true is this about the two messengers? Let's see in the following story I am about to share...

This story came from a close colleague of mine; who told me about her close friend's story which fascinated me.

Her friend was a Christian as was her sick mother who was lying in the hospital at her deathbed.
Her mother was gravely ill and she was really worried and anxious about her mother's condition.

Deep down inside, she had that same fear that her mother is probably not doing so well already as mentioned by the doctor.

Late one night, as she was sleeping by her mother's bed during her night watch and accompanying her sick mother, she awoke to some sounds of bells and metal chains clanking.

When she opened her eyes, she saw two tall figures; bearing the head of an ox/bull and with the face of a horse standing at the end of her mother's bead.
They were ringing the bells and suddenly, she saw her mother waking up from her bed and followed them.
She could not believe her eyes, as she saw with her very own eyes how her mother followed the two figures and slowly disappeared from sight.

She turned back and saw her mother still lying down next to her; and instinctively, she touched her mother's hand which was right beside her.

To her shock, it was icy cold and when she held her finger nervously to her mother's nose, she realized that her mother had stopped breathing.

She called for the doctors and nurses; and her mother was confirmed dead a few minutes ago which coincidentally was the time she saw the two figures.

She could not believe this till this very day; especially when she is a staunch Christian as is the case with her whole family.
She has heard of this story of the Ox Head and Horse Face from her Buddhist and Taoist friends and she never did take much notice of it as she was skeptical of their beliefs, but now when it happened to her personally, she could not understand it anymore.

In Christianity, we believe that when we die, our souls go to Heaven and reunited with God.
It is natural that we would have imagined an angel or God who came to bring us along on our way (if we are dying).

This is a strong contrast to both beliefs and religions; perhaps we have been wrong in what we believed or assumed we believed?

My friend suggested that probably the messengers are the same in collecting the dying person to their judgement and they are brought to a place (probably Purgatory or limbo) while they are sorted out by their religion, before they are sent to their respective judgement places by their God?

But there is only ONE GOD; as all religions believe....so perhaps, there is a truth to this after all?
Anyone who has any further explanation?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Angel of Death/Grim Reaper

Angel of Death; also known as the Grim Reaper is often associated with death; as the name indicated.

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They are the messengers of Death; and they arrive to take those who are about to leave this world to their rightful place to await their judgement.
It was often told in forms of tales and imaginative stories that the Angel of Death/Grim Reaper is the cause of one's sudden death, and can be bribed or persuaded to lengthen one's lifetime.

There are various versions of the Angel of Death; according to the different beliefs and cultures based on their respective religions.
However, they are all connected to the same theory; which is Death itself.

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We all know that birth and death is beyond our control; it remains a divine mystery which we should all respect.
Death is unpredictable; no one can predict when or how they are going to leave the world (not unless you're a seer; but I still feel that God's powers far supercedes that of the mortal human being)

It is most feared of; probably because most of the people (us) are afraid to leave what we have now; our belongings and most importantly, our loved ones.
We are afraid of something that is unknown to us; which explains why most people feel so scared of darkness.

At the same time, everyone is not prepared to leave a place where they are comfortable with and they are reluctant that they need to leave before everyone else, hence the fear always remain.
Everyone; is afraid of death, due to the HOW question as well.

We have heard of all sorts of stories and read of them in papers of deaths which occur almost every day, every hour, every minute; in fact, every second and could be anyone and anywhere.
Some die painfully; some die in terror, some die unwillingly, some, their lives are just taken from them unprepared, and there are also some of the fortunate ones who died peacefully, knowing of their own time.

But, HOW can we predict in which way we will die?
The answer is NO, no one can ever tell the manner in which their life will be taken from them.

Even if we do know, does that expel the fear of death from ourselves?

We have heard of some near-death experiences from people around us; some from people who have been gravely ill, some who have escaped death in a very close encounter, and some who claimed they have been to hell/heaven and were sent back.
Some even claimed that their deceased loved ones came to them in their dream to describe how they died and how they encountered the Angel of Death at their very own deathbeds.

Angel of Death is a myth or reality?

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I chose not to be skeptical as this is something I cannot answer and verify; and I chose not to question the existence.
I leave it to you to decide as I shall proceed to share true stories as told by some close friends who shared their family or personal experiences with death or Angel of Death...
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Stay tune for the upcoming posts...

Disclaimer: Photos do not belong to me and are entirely used for illustration purposes only. Please do not credit me for them; they are taken from the web.