Friday, walking home from work, I noticed a blue plastic tent in the front of a home. I thought that perhaps they were having some repair work done. As I passed by, I noticed flowers and realized too late that someone has passed away and that this was the area to pay respects prior to the burial. I say too late because I felt as though I should have walked across the street as a sign of respect. I did bow my head as I passed and said a prayer but, before doing so I was able to see the photo of the attractive, elderly woman whose life was being celebrated. There was also incense burning, typical in Buddhist tradition.

After seeing this display, I knew what I would be in for later that night: firecrackers!! They typically last 2-3 days.

I’m not certain of the death practices here. I do know that death itself is a rather taboo subject. When someone dies, I think they’re often buried in Buddhist traditions, but not many people here do not really claim a religion. There are fireworks at night. This morning there was a lot of singing (chanting?) followed by a lot of musical drumming. Many, many people drove to the home to pay respects. I don’t know what services are conducted in the tented area, or how the burial services are conducted, or by whom. I have seen some of the cemeteries and they’ve been on the outskirts of the city. Families have large mausoleum type structures made of stone which serve as final resting places. I don’t know what colors are associated with death, or what superstitions there are. I do know that no one wants to live in an apartment where someone has died (they’re often rented to foreigners such as myself–hey??!!!). I know that 4 is an unlucky number. Some buildings do not have a 4th floor!

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