Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pass Through The Fire!

I think I have mentioned that we live in an old folks home. Our first few months here, there were about four funerals! There was another one two days ago but the festivities continue. The body was paraded down the street followed by white robed friends and family. Then it was marched around in the middle of the street. The body was taken to the crematorium as they all are and the cover was burned. Then each person had to jump over a flaming pile of hay. Even the bags they carried and the poles from the bier had to pass through the flames. There were several men, perhaps the pallbearers that stepped through again and again. Cleansing? I don't know and I haven't found a local that can explain it yet. One told me that when she was married they walked through fire before entering the new home. It was to scare off wicked spirits and insure fertility. She had no clue what it did for the deceased. Did I mention the fireworks? Oh, can't forget those, they went off every ten steps and all through the night, for the past three nights! And again this morning! Clanging cymbals, ringing bells and banging drums must be sending the deceased off to Never-land because they haven't stopped either, even after midnight. People have been folding little silver pieces of paper for days, filling large garbage bags full. Today it's gold paper in the shape of little boats. They built a yellow paper boat about 6 feet long and burned that too. The yellow represents gold so they can be rich in the next life and the boat is for him to use later. If you can concentrate past the deafening noise and meditate on what these people go through, you may mixed emotions. They are so wrapped up in these customs, but when asked, cannot explain. Especially the younger ones. I watched as parents picked up their children and swung them through the flames. The kids have no clue, just following in the footsteps of tradition. And the suffering on the faces of the older ones pulls at your heart.




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