03 October 2005

Tracking The Ancestral Trail (Part 1)

I was in Xiamen over the Ch1na National Day holidays when Typhoon Longwang decided to come smack us right between the eyes. Fortunately for us, the typhoon's path was blocked by the island of Ta1wan and so the intensity of the typhoon was severely subdued. Still it was rain, rain and more rain as we found ourselves imprisoned in your own hotel rooms. Perfect for me as it was the best opportunity for me to catch up on my sleep. What better way to catch your siesta on the upgraded top floor corner room of the spanking new Sofitel Plaza Xiamen? Ahhh..... zzzzzzzz

My ancestral home is located in the town of HengLim (杏林). Although, it was quite near to downtown, getting there was quite a challenge as the final stretch to the home was an alley that snakes around the houses. As the alley was merely a little wider than a car's breadth. We had to navigate the car slowly and carefully while we negotiate each turn.

What you see here is the facade of the ancestral temple and it has been there for over 500 years. It has long been declared as an heritage landmark which explains the development all around us except the temple.

This is the name of my clan. The TingYinTong. Wah... machiam secret society siah. Hur hur hur....

The praying really no joke. I remembered the last time I did it 3 years ago, I prayed until kena backside cramp. Here's what I had to do. First pray to Tee Kong (Sky God). I had to kneel, kow tow 3 times, stand up, kneel again, kow tow 3 times, stand up and then kneel 3rd time, kow tow 3 more times. Then it's the same thing praying to Tor Teh Kong (Earth God), 3 kneels & 9 kow tows. After that it's the later ancestors which is another 3 & 9. Before finally the big boss himself, the Pioneer Ancestor where I had to do another 4 & 12. My legs and butt ached for a week after that. Luckily this time was ok. Perhaps it was the gym sessions started to pay off?

My only dilemma is that I had to joss-stick pray to the "Gods" when it's not really "my thing", but I decided to just go through with it to appease the folks.

This chap here is the most senior person in the clan. He is the same generation as my Great Grandfather. Respect. Respect.

These are the tablets of my ancestors. The solo tablet right at the top is the Pioneer Ancestor who started this temple. He had 6 wives then and I came from the line of the second wife.

There was a story behind this temple. Right behind the temple is another ancestral temple belonging to the Zheng family. Zheng was an official in the government and before we prospered, this chap used to bully my pioneer ancestor's family jialat jialat. Eventually, when we hit pay-dirt, my pioneer ancestor not only became an government offical as well, but one that lagi outranked the Zhengs. So as an act of revenge, my pioneer ancestor build our ancestral temple bigger and right in front of the Zhengs' ancestral temple totally sealing off the latter's front door, which in a way, also cut off the latter's feng shui. Revenge is sweet.

Talk about being guai lan. This one takes first prize. Mai siao siao hor....

Click here to proceed to Part 2

- Voxeros

1. Jaslyn left...
Tuesday, 4 October 2005 2:25 am ::
Interesting pics papa :)

2. mihuatang left...
Tuesday, 4 October 2005 10:42 am
did you get to see your 家谱 (family tree?) or issit going to be in part II.

3. kIm left...
Tuesday, 4 October 2005 11:13 am
Hmm.. How come you have to go all the way there to pray? Anyhow, my family's from Xiamen too! hahaha.. But is my Mom's side la..

4. akk left...
Tuesday, 4 October 2005 11:51 am
my mum's side is Ke jia (keh lang), my dad's side only start from grandma, who is adopted by great-grandma...ahem....our tree very short. Some more, great granny is illiterate, so never jih must be glad to know that you are part of something so big and meaningful!

5. chendeneng left...
Tuesday, 4 October 2005 1:42 pm
six wives leh! idol!

6. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 4 October 2005 2:39 pm :: 
Jaslyn: Glad to know that these stuff interests you. Stay tuned for more

mihuatang: Over here, we call it the 族谱 (or is it 祖谱?). It was brought over
from Ch1na to Ta1wan before handing it down the generations to us.
Had it not been for this book, we wouldn't have found the ancestral temple. Quite a
thick book with lots of details.
We are currently working on updating it. The next edition should be ready before
the coming Ch1nese New Year.

kIm: Probably because after more than 500 years of sitting at the same place,
the temple is very unlikely to come visit us instead. :P
Ok ok but seriously, we wanted to go down earlier to register the birth of Gabriel
but didn't have the time until last weekend.

Akk: Indeed. Quite an interesting part of your heritage to learn and
discover. You would be shocked about my Taiwanese part of the ancestry. We used to
own half of Taipei's land. That would be another blog another time. Probably I will
tell this story during the Ching Ming Festival next year. Akan datang.

7. JayWalk left...
Tuesday, 4 October 2005 2:41 pm :: 
chen deneng: Acherly hor, I don't envy the thought of having 6 wives. I rather have 6 girlfriends. hahaahahaha.... :P

8. Sheena left...
Tuesday, 4 October 2005 6:43 pm
I'm glad to know you actually bother going back to your ancestral village, keeping in touch with your relatives, and you even know your family tree and which line you came from! That's really impressive. Most people nowadays wouldn't even know where they ancestral village is, much less go back to visit.
And Ting Yin Tong really sounds like some Sar Luk Kow kinda gang name, heh.

9. milktea left...
Wednesday, 5 October 2005 12:04 am
Reminds me of my cousin who's a devoted christian. she wouldn't touch a joss stick and her parents just couldn't accept that.
I definitely agree with you, it's what inside the heart. Not everything should be done by the book.

10. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 5 October 2005 1:32 am :: 
Sheena: I am just very intrigued by it as it explains a bit more of my own existence. 

Milktea: I think a compromise has to be reach here between joss-stick folks and their Christian son/daughter.
I took the joss stick as my way of paying respect to the tradition, the ancestors, etc. I am still in every way a Christian.
On the flip side, for those who attends church regularly and fervently, I don't see them as any more of a Christian than I. We are all the same under God, regardless of race, language or religion/faith.

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