Do You Send Flowers to a Taoist Funeral?
Sending flowers in a specific color is acceptable in Taoist funeral. In addition, there are lots of traditional practices to observe. Taoism is similar to Buddhism in some ways. Funerals in Taoism religion is focused more on life rather than death. However, they also give importance to a mourning period of 49 days with funeral prayers being said every seven days. Although rituals and rites are more simplified now, there are certain traditions that are still being practiced in the funeral. From the preparation of the body for the wake and burial to the mourning rituals to wake to the burial or cremation, everything has to be in line with the beliefs and traditions.
Traditional Sympathy Flowers
One of the traditional practices for Taoism funeral is the offering of flowers at the wake. Flowers are one of the objects in the Taoism funeral. They use the smell of flowers, together with the incense, to surround the area during the funeral rites. Funeral flowers that family and friends bring are mostly Lotus and Chrysanthemum flowers. Yellow and white flowers are arranged in wreaths, sprays, and funeral baskets to offer to the funeral. A smaller basket or vase of flowers is also placed near the deceased person’s picture together with some candles.
Sending flowers in a Taoism funeral is appropriate but limited to white or yellow flowers only. This is because white symbolizes mourning and grief. Red flowers are not appropriate in any Taoist funeral because red flowers signify happiness. Aside from sending of white flowers for the funerals, family, friends, and people who want to send condolences may also bring or send gifts of money in a white envelope called as “white gold”.
Traditional Funeral Flower Arrangement
The traditional funeral flower arrangement in Taoist funeral is an elaborate wreath. The wreath is in round or circular shape made using white and yellow flowers of Chrysanthemums and Lotus. The flower arrangements come with banners where couplets are written. These flowers are delivered either to the family’s house where the wake is held or to a funeral home.
With regards to the Taoist funeral, the wake of the deceased person may vary depending on the age at death. The family traditionally holds the wake of parents and elderly at the house and will last for 3 days or 5 days or 7 days. It is typical for them to hold wake in odd number of days. However, they have this tradition wherein an elder should not pay respect to a younger person who dies. The body of the younger person will not be brought home for the wake and funeral rites. If the person was married, his or her family can hold the wake at their house, but to the unmarried young person, the body will remain in the funeral home. When an infant or little child dies, the family will not hold any funeral rites but bury the body in silence.
Some distant relatives and family members prefer to bring artificial flowers when they attend the wake and funeral service. It is difficult for them to bring freshly cut flowers for the funeral because of the distance and long transportation. Artificial flowers are usually arranged in a simple design.
Taoist Funeral Service
At the funeral service, the Taoist priest or monk chants some scriptures while the drum and other musical instruments are played. There are some rituals done as part of the funerals intended to ward off evil spirits. One of the priests will pray on the Guan Yin seat, a lotus flower-shaped seat symbolizing the goddess of mercy. The guests who are present during the funeral service are required to burn joss paper or ghost money. This is intended to free the spirit of the deceased. Joss papers are in shapes similar to the objects that the spirit or soul of the deceased person may need in the other world.
Funeral Feast after Burial or Cremation
After the burial or cremation, the family will host a funeral feast where the table is served with “sugar water” dessert first. There will be 8 dishes on the table and a plate and seat left vacant for the spirit of the deceased person. Aside from a sweet soup, the family also serves other dishes containing fish, chicken, and pork, but no beef or horsemeat.
Each funeral attendee is required to offer the family a funeral gift. It is usually a white envelope containing money in odd number amount but not ending in nine, which is a symbol of ‘long lasting’. Giving the family any amount ending in nine may suggest long lasting grief. Aside from white envelope with money, guests may also give a funeral gift. It should be one gift and never two or three or any quantity because two or more gifts symbolize two or more deaths to follow.
The Taoist funeral is a tradition and religion-based practice for the dead. Flowers are acceptable in the rituals provided that family and friends choose the type of flowers appropriate for the mourning period. For the Taoist, it is common for families, relatives, and friends to contribute cash to help the family with the funeral expenses. Non-Taoist friends and guests may not be required to follow the practice and rituals but they are welcome to the wake to pay last respect to the person and to condole with the family. If you are attending a Taoist funeral, it is best to consult professional florist before you send flowers for the funerals.