Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Don’t Pick Up That Ang Pau (路上红包莫捡)

In case you are not aware, an ‘ang pau’ is a type of red packet married couples giving to single persons during Chinese New Year. Or it may be just a red packet with money given to a newly married couple as means to contribute to their wedding expenses. Or an ‘ang pau’ can be some bribe money to gain certain favors. Whatever types of ‘ang pau’ there are out there, the ‘ang pau’ I mention here refers to special types.

These special ‘ang pau’ has a meaning of ‘married off something’; and that something is certainly not human. Basically there are two types of special marriages. The first is to marry off a ghost (嫁鬼) and the other is to marry off a phi-phop (嫁蛊).

The ghost marriage was popular in Malaysia during the 50’s in village but now this man-ghost marriage is largely disregarded though ghost-ghost marriages are still happening once in a blue moon. However, one of my friends who is working in Taiwan told me that the practice of ghost marriage still prevails in Taiwan rural areas today.

So, if you go to Taiwan for sightseeing, there are chances that you may end up in bringing back a ghost bride this way:

If you find someone has dropped an ‘ang pau’ on the road and if you were to pick it up and opens it; then someone hiding in a bush or in a corner will jump out and say to you: “Congratulations! Brother-in-law or Son-in-law!”

Then you will be surrounded by a group of people and being escorted into a house where an old couple and a spirit tablet (神祖牌) are waiting for you. Of course you will not have the opportunity to argue as everything is tugged into your hands including some money, valuable items, the deceased clothing and finally the spirit tablet.

If you would play along, then you would bring the items back home and the spirit tablet should be placed in your bedroom. In case you wonder what happened if you are already married? No worries, the ghost bride would not mind but it should be treated as your ‘second wife’.

For some people this ghost married is not all bad either because a poor can use the money to start a small business and improves his life… provided that his human wife agrees to the idea of course.

However, if you opposed to the marriage; then this said ghost lady may haunt you forever until to the graves. Hold your horses and I shall tell you some stories in coming postings.

Before I forget, the other type of ‘marriage’ is the marriage of phi-phop or in Chinese: ‘gu’ (). This is another stubborn fellow for it can devour you if it doesn’t like you… So beware of the ‘ang pau’ beside a road… And that applies to Taiwan and rural Indo-china only. I would just pick up any ang pau in Malaysia and pocket the money!

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