06 February 2005

Covering All Religious Bases

My maternal grandparents were buried in the Philippines. Our rites for the deceased ancestors are half Filipino and half Chinese. My mother, sisters, and I were converted to Catholicism when we were in school. Following the Catholic feast of All Souls Day, November 2, the Chinese Filipinos would go to the cemetery and stay there all day. They would bring food and games to play, as for a picnic, and even books to read. My mother would bring fruit, burn paper money and incense at the grave, and make us bow. I remember my grandmother's funeral. At a certain hour, the Catholic priest celebrated Mass. After that a Daoist priest came and said some prayers. That was followed by the Buddhist monks performing some ceremony. There was the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the side. Over at the end was the statue of Kuanyin, the bodhisattva of mercy. My father said that this way everything was covered.
SOURCE: "All Bases Covered," by Deanna Li, in Being Chinese: Voices from the Diaspora, by Wei Djao (U. Arizona Press, 2003), pp. 119-120

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