Monday, March 9, 2015

Inedible Foods & Wastages In Spirit Offerings (浪费的供品)

If we have a chance to chat with old farmers, they would advise us not to waste each and single rice grains harvested. They would pick up each uncooked rice grain that has fallen onto the floor. I have seen my late grandma and other old folks to collected residue cooked rice from the drain and then dried them to feed chickens.

Having said so, due to the food abundance in Malaysia; there are people during these past few years producing ‘inconsumable’ yet ‘beautiful’ offering cakes that can be kept for one full year on the altar. Ethically speaking, it would be okay just to produce these inconsumable decorative cakes using plastic materials or other inconsumable materials. However I had a chance to view a pre Lunar New Year celebration program that people uses edible rice flour to produce inedible cakes for the gods to ‘eat’.

Now, that is something that my friend and I cannot comprehend. How can people waste money to buy something that is toxic and expensive to 'please' gods?

Below is a message from a friend:

“I had an evening stroll around our garden lately. I saw neighbour displayed on her altar some very colourful leavened rice cake, commonly known as “huat Kuih” in Hokkien dialect. She said the Huat Kuih looked very attractive, but with lots of preservatives to be last for a whole year or months. It tasted bad due some chemical used as speedy raising agent.  She said she did not eat the rice cake, just for praying.

I walked away in silence with these lingering thoughts on mind- “If I do not like to eat these poor quality rice cakes, then I must not offer them to spiritual beings?”

Similarly, I am not going to send you my home baked butter cake as your birth day gift, if it tastes awful. Such thoughtless act reveals insincerity and disrespect to deities that we worship. Don’t you think they would grant our wishes if we pray for?

Our Chinese great philosopher by name Confucius was famed for his teaching- “Don’t do to other what you don’t like”. I have to add a bit more to make it clearer – “Don’t do to others what you do not like, even they are spiritual beings.”

There are two points in this discussion:

1.      Should we offer inconsumable foods to spirits?
2.      Should we waste foods?

Of course, if I can help it; it would put a stop to people offering inconsumable foods to spirits because this type of action is very hypocritical (虚伪) and wasting valuable foods. The first would caused the bad karma of deceive and the latter would sow the karma seed of poverty and famine.

There are still many people starving and yet we waste money and foods, then soon it shall be our turn to face the consequences. We all know that the world climate is changing, and a study has showed that local average yearly temperature has risen from 28C to 40C in just a few years time. It would not be a surprised that soon we shall be forced to import rice and flour.

The question I would like to ask:

“Would we still make those decorative inedible foods for our gods still?”

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