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Visit Afterlife
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Close your eyes and ‘visit’ the afterlife
Now in Singapore: Taiwanese ritual that takes believers on ‘tour’ to meet deceased loved ones
By Maureen Koh

April 15, 2007

A walk in hell to meet the dead.

That is what a ritual imported from Taiwan known as Guan Luo Yin promises.

The ritual has attracted 20 Singaporeans, including professionals.

It is supposed to make the believer reach beyond the world of the living and communicate with their deceased loved ones or, at least, find out how they are faring in the other world.

The 20 participants will take part in a two-hour ritual this weekend to coincide with the Qing Ming festival.

The festival, which ends tomorrow, is also known as ‘tomb sweeping day’ where the Chinese visit the ancestors’ graves to pay respects and offer prayers.

The ‘spiritual tours’ will take place over the next nine days, and are free.

Mr Hillary Phang, managing director of Yuan Zhong Xiu Geomancy Centre which is organising the tours, said: ‘It’s not religion-based, neither are we propagating superstition.’

Six Taiwanese priests will conduct the ritual.

Those participating have to state their relationship to the deceased person and that person’s birth and death dates.

At least 100 days must have passed since the death.

The ‘tours’ will be held at the Cai Shen (Fortune God) temple at Sims Avenue. With a talisman covering the eyes, each participant will be blindfolded with a piece of red cloth.

Seated with their shoes removed, they will be led on their ‘journey’ by Master Zhang Qingyuan, the chief priest.

Not everyone The New Paper spoke to was as keen as the participants on the idea of such a ‘tour’.

Incredulous was the common response of the 35 adults The New Paper spoke to about the concept at random.

Only three were open to the ‘tour’ – and even they expressed reservations.

Freelance makeup artist Mimi Sng, 29, whose brother died in a car crash four years ago, said: ‘I know my mother still misses him. I guess she’d be happy if she could ‘see’ him again, but frankly, I don’t see how doing something like this can ease her pain.’

A Singaporean businessman, Mr Lim, 48, wanted to ‘meet’ his mother, who died of cancer in 2000.

Mr Lim, who didn’t want to give his full name, said: ‘I was in China when she passed away and did not get to say goodbye. Hopefully, I’d be able to meet and ask her if she has any unfulfilled wishes.’

Professor Alan Chan, who teaches Chinese philosophy and religion at the Department of Philosophy in the National University of Singapore, said while he has not participated in or witnessed a Guan Luo Yin ritual, he has read reports about it.

He explained: ‘Any religious ritual rests on a belief system. In this case, the ritual of Guan Luo Yin presupposes the belief in life after death and more generally, the existence of spirit.

He said the ritual expresses a certain longing of the heart on the part of the believer.

‘Guan Luo Yin promises a journey that would take the devotees to the abode of the dead to ‘see’ their deceased loved ones. This is a powerful motivation,’ he said.

He added: ‘It’s important to understand the impact that religious beliefs have on people’s lives, even though we may not believe in them.’

Master Chung Kwang Tong, secretary-general of the Taoist Federation (Singapore)’s youth group, said: ‘In Taoist teachings, it is impossible for the living to visit the dead, given the three realms of tian di ren (heaven, hades and man).

‘However, some such practices are unique to certain parts of a particular region of their origin.’

http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/st…27586,00.html?

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