Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Last chance to see

The Last Rites

Queuing for last respect

It was Friday 13th January 2007. Some time after the Friday weekly congressional ritual, the phone rang. On the other end was my cousin informing that my auntie had just passed away, I was still watching my pc screen and reading e-mails. Read one from my younger sister in Klang Valley asking about my auntie’s condition. She was the first, outside my immediate family, to get the message of her death from me.

Normally someone of considerable experience would tell that someone had passed away by feeling the pulse. I am still unable to do that. Messengers would then sent out to every nooks and corners of the kampong (village) passing the news to the villagers. Immediate mobilization would be organized to prepare for burial. The grave digger, the bathing team and the funeral prayer organizers were placed to work.

Visitors will be pouring in, with the donations. This donation assists to fund the whole exercise. The cash donation would lessened the burden of the deceased family to fork out cash to finance the burial and what comes next. The norm is 10 Malaysian Ringgit per visitor, of course depending on affordability and totally at one’s liberty. The burial cost is nominal, largely to meet the cost of grave digging and the bulk of the expenses goes to the drinks and the meals for the living, more so for what is coming up in the next few nights.

Typical Funeral Prayers

Positioning bier for prayers

Preparation of the corpse for a Malay burial is generally define by the demands of the Islamic jurisprudence or better known as fiqh. The corpse is first cleaned by bathing her, then she is wrapped in white cloth from head to toe with less than a foot extra at each end. Thats to tie the ends at the top of the head and bottom of the sole. Normally, after the bath the face is left uncovered for an hour or so, for the immediate family to pay their last respect, salutation and kisses.

The prepared corpse is then placed on a bier cover with semi cylindrical space frames and capped with a specially designed cloth for the occasion. It is then ready for funeral prayers. As a family tradition the funeral prayers was done twice. First, by members of the immediate family in the deceased abode then the second in the local mosque. At the mosques a small amount of cash is given to the participants as a token of appreciation.

Bier to mosque

The bier is taken to the mosque. It used to be made of bamboo and palm, that were then be left at the cemetery to rot. Today, the bier is made of Aluminum so that it is light and will be brought and stored in the local mosque after the funeral. The bier will be used many times. The bier is designed in such a way that at the edges the bearers protruded out to be placed on the shoulders for carrying it around. In this case the bier was carried the shoulders some 500 metres to a local burial ground

reading talkin ( the deceased testimony )
Final resting place

Leaving the mosque

After the burial, nightly for seven continuous nights there will be a ritual of chanting verses of the Quran, salutations to the prophets, verses that will bring about god-consciousness and seeking forgiveness for the dead and the living . In the old days it used to be organized for forty nights continuously, now it is done for the first 3 or 7 nights then on the fortieth followed by a final one on the hundredth night.

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