Fr. Lu, Mr. Huang and I went to Shangrao-Raoping on Dec 12, 2016 evening. It took around 5 hours by car from Shenzhen.
The next morning we attended the funeral mass of Mr. Xu, the uncle of one of our parishioners. There are around 1,000 people in this village, only their families are Catholics. Their great grandfather worked in Vietnam and became Catholics. It’s 5 generation Catholics now. There is no Church in this town. When the pastor comes, 1-2 twice a year, he celebrates Mass at one of the parishioners’ house. The pastor, young Chinese priest, take care 18 Churches and stations. Pastor Wang speaks Chaozhou language while the parishioners in this town speak Kejia language so he says Mass in Putonghua.
The funeral Mass was celebrated in the house. There were no pews, everyone was standing. Several parishioners from nearby town came and stood outside the house.
Here are several funeral traditions in this area: the daughter walks and cries from the street to the house in the early morning of the funeral day; the eldest son of the deceased carries the picture of the deceased followed by all sons and grandsons in front of the coffin for the procession; somebody hold a black umbrella for the eldest son and the picture of the deceased; daughter in-laws, daughters and granddaughters walk behind the coffin; the eldest son of the deceased wears sack cloth head cover and vest, son and grandson wear sack cloth head cover, daughter in-laws wear blue head cover and skirt, granddaughters wear white, and daughters of the deceased wear yellow; several volunteers help to carry several white banners and three colorful banners in front of the procession; all the volunteers wear black cloth with white cross sign on their hand.
There were white towel and mineral water available for everyone on the procession. They walked a few meters from the house and then the coffin was brought to the crematorium. All are invited for lunch at the auditorium of the village ancestor hall. Several women prepared the lunch. It’s around 12 tables that day.
Fr. Lu and I joined the lunch while Mr. Huang went to the crematorium with the group as they need a driver to bring the ashes from crematorium to their town. The family of the deceased and somebody who has dead in the family less than 3 years are not allowed to drive for funeral.
Fr. Lu blessed the ashes and then the eldest son brought the ashes to the cemetery, somebody hold a black umbrella for him. All the families, including three colorful banners, walked in front of the ashes.
We went back to Shenzhen that afternoon. It was an unplanned trip for me. Fr. Lu asked me to go less than an hour before we left so I didn’t bring anything for an overnight stay. I wore my pink top with fuschia jacket while the local lector wear pink jacket.
Hong Kong, December 20, 2016
Sr. Anastasia B. Lindawati, M.M.
Let’s do simple things with simple love to make God’s love visible