Sunday, April 23, 2006

Life After Death?

Migration has also intersected with culture and religion to create changes among Chinese New Zealanders. "Chinese people I interviewed talked about ... throwing rice into the grave - a tradition that had been lost but is being revived by new migrants coming in," says Ms Schwass. Life after death? Most Chinese believe in some sort of afterlife. Many prefer to be buried so they can enter the afterlife whole, and want to be interred at a spot with good feng shui - that is, chosen to enhance the energy flows of Heaven and Earth which are believed to influence one's life. But the soul, say some Chinese, doesn't go to the afterlife immediately after death, so a family may "comfort" the dead with gifts of food or money. Once in a coffin, jade, gold, coins or other precious objects may be placed on the deceased's mouth, hands or eyes. The idea of a restless soul, says Ms Schwass, came through strongly in Pacific cultures. "There was a sense that if you didn't honour a person properly in their death and burial, you would be left with the potential for a restless soul."

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