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Saturday, August 23, 2014
Soul Calling & Breaking Castle (招魂与破城)
In Chinese customs, when a person dies in a foreign land; it
is believed that his soul will have no way to return to his homeland even
though his body is transported back home. Hence, his soul will linger on in
this foreign land and no way of enjoying any of the food offerings given to him
by his/her love ones. Of course, he/she also has no way to be delivered through
any of the religious ceremonies.
If such condition persists, then his soul will always in a
foreign land and no chance of being reborn. We perhaps can imagine that this
poor soul will be in a pretty sorrow and pitiful stage.
Unless a ‘soul calling’ ceremony is carried out by the
deceased’s next of kin; then could the dead soul return home with the ‘soul
banner’ together with its love ones.
It is a norm that the ‘soul calling’ ritual is led by a monk
or Taoist with banishing the ‘soul banner’; some folks even bring along a
colourful booth with a ‘soul tablet’ (神主牌)
inside. The function of a ‘soul tablet’ is to let the soul to temporary attach
onto it. It is certainly that the deceased’s love ones must also present or
else the dead soul will not follow a stranger.
First of all, the group must go to the place where the
deceased passed away to carry out this ‘soul calling’ activity. Before the
ritual, candles and incense are burnt together with some joss papers. After
that, the Taoist master will hold a ring in his left hand and the soul banner
in his right while reciting lengthy pitiful soul calling mantras.
It is believed that only after the soul calling ritual that
the dead soul can attach properly onto the soul tablet and hence be brought
home for worship.
What was being said above refer to where the body and location
of the death can be identified; but what happen if both of the information is
unavailable? Then, the soul calling ritual will be fruitless.
What to do?
Have no fear. Taoist has a ritual known as ‘breaking castle’
(破城). As the name implies, ‘breaking
castle’ refers to a situation where the dead soul is trapped or imprisoned for
some reasons. In order to release this trapped soul, we will have to rely to
the powers of gods.
First of all, the Taoist must carve a head out of wood or
replace the head with a bun (馒头).
When everything is ready, then the ceremony can be carried
out to release the dead soul.
Soul calling ceremony is frequently seen in Malaysia, but ‘castle
breaking’ scene is pretty rare now days.