04 October 2005

Tracking The Ancestral Trail (Part 2)

This is the altar on the right where it houses the tablets of the later ancestors. Judging by the number of this tablets being cramped inside, I take it as this is the Economy Class cabin. No? :P

The lanterns above the folks have special meanings. Each lantern represents a family tree branch's bloodline i.e. a male heir carrying on the surname further. This only applies to the first son in that particular household. Second son onwards do not need to have any more lanterns to represent their household.

This in Hokkien is known as Tian Teng (添灯 - Adding of Lantern), of which the Ch1nese phrase (添丁 - Adding of Son) originated from. Hence, this is also perhaps why we have "添丁发财" as a well-wish.

Obviously with a family tree spanning over half a millenium, you would expect to the a lot of lanterns abound but I counted less than a 50 in the temple. I supposed all this is done on a voluntary basis whether or not, you are bothered to make an effort carrying on the tradition. This has taught me a valuable lesson that day i.e. we need to think about us as individual members of a family on how we are to make a contribution towards the family. Too many times are we guilty of taking the family for granted and expect the family to serve you instead of the other way round.

Tip of the day: Neglect your family and you may one day realised that it is no longer there. The grim fact about it is there is no way back.

Here are our lanterns being hoisted up. This is to the mark the birth of Gabriel as Generation 21 of our family bloodline.

I guess this is also a sign of the times as our family moves along with time. Gabriel's lantern is the first electric lantern in the temple.

Spotted this at the side of the temple and it is quite a grim picture. While I am not sure what all these discarded lanterns were doing there (damaged, old, retired, replaced?), it got me thinking about Doh Pang (倒房). This is where the particular family branch die off without a son to continue the bloodline. It also got me thinking that the growing of a family tree isn't always a rosy picture. While some branches may blossomed to many new branches, there are also branches that terminate just like that.

Click here to proceed to Part 3.

- Voxeros

1. mihuatang left...
Wednesday, 5 October 2005 12:11 pm
mmmm... since we are in the same family 500 years ago五百年前是一家, wonder whtr i can find my name there!

2. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 5 October 2005 2:52 pm ::
mihuatang: I guess that would depend if you are able to find anything that your grandfathers left you, that would provide that vital link.
Also, there are many cases where your surname today is different from last time. Some families changed their surnames to avoid execution or when they are trying to hide from their enemies during exile.
One of the gruesome examples is where the emperor decreed a 灭九族 i.e. uprooting your entire family tree. No one, not even the women and children will be spared.

3. akk left...
Thursday, 6 October 2005 9:33 pm
so all the older lanterns were lit by candles? everyday? wah...quite a lot of effort....

4. JayWalk left...
Friday, 7 October 2005 2:07 am ::
Akk: Supposedly so but taking a closer look at my pictures again, I believe that they also got light bulbs in them.
Perhaps the only difference is that our lantern is the only hexagonal shaped one while the rest are round.

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