Newsletter No 25: Nov and Dec 2013

Yin Feng Shui - Ancestor Tablet

Please note that the newsletters will be bi-monthly instead of monthly.

We have introduced the Yin Feng Shui on burier and urn placement in the modern columbarium on the Apr 2013 newsletter. Today we would like to share on ancestor tablet. 

It is not difficult to notice from the Chinese drama and movies of the old classic that ancestor tablet is the most important asset of the home. When there is a fire scene, most likely the head of the home will save the ancestor tablet first. This relates strongly that most Chinese belief that the ancestor tablet is one of the ways to honor and to remember their ancestor's contribution to their life. For some this tablet is prayed at home and for some in the temple. Perhaps this is another way to show our respect daily after the pass away of the love ones.

There are a couple of points to take note assuming one is placing the ancestor tablet in a temple:

1)  The choice of a good Feng Shui temple with license and a long term usage of land agreement. For example, some land is lease for 30 years and others properties may be free hold.

Notes: Google map will show you the temples location. You could try this website that I find interesting: Some temples do have their own website to introduce their temple's history and facilities. Do note that some needs joining as a club or clan member in order to use the facilities. Normally a one time payment is needed. There are also temples classified as monuments by the government to preserve the culture or building.

Although some temple may be built on a free hold property, do note that resource is needed to maintain the temple expenses. Thus you have to select wisely. Normally the bigger the temple the higher the expenses and of course the fees could be a little higher. Many are sponsored by rich and kind frontiers in the olden days to house the poor and honor those that have passed away.

2) The names to be engaved on the tablet. Do note that not all temples allow the names on the tablet for more than one generation. For example, it is common nowadays to place both parents name on the tablet and covered the one that is still living with a piece of red paper. Some will also like to include all ancestors for example the surname of the family and even the names of their living sons or daughters that has yet to be married on the tablet with red paper covered. When one pass away the red paper will be removed by a monk or priest with prayers to honor the deceased.

Note: There are proper way in writing the tablet as well as the usage of colours. Generally the tablet is made of wood and the writings in gold with a red or wood base. Depending on the size of the tablet, it is not wise to have too many names as this will make the font very small. Size of tablets on different location in the temple is generally fixed thus you may add more tablets but not custom to your needed size.        

3) The facilities and prayers needed after. For examples, not all temples allow the burning of the incense offerings. In addition, most temples will collect some fees for ritual services or prayers during the seventh month and the Qing Ming season.

Notes: You may consider if the temple accepts advance payment for prayers in the future years should one predict there will not be descendents taking up the role.

Note most temples have their opening hours so that you can pray respect accordingly. For those temples that do not allow burning of incense paper, you may need to bring home and make offerings at your own property or the incense burner at your HDB void deck.

4) What will happen if there is a change in the temple services? For example closure due to lack of funds, government usage of land or other reasons.

Note: You may need to do your home work as normally not many can guarantee a life time placement as the country is changing all the time. There may not be a contract when a placement is made as well. Some temples may also be affected by the surrounding development as well. Still there is some luck in selection.

5) The price range could be ($1500 to $9000) select one that is affordable to you including the prayers and making of the ancestor tablet.

Note: Generally the bigger the temple the higher the prices range. The location, level and facing (view) will play a great factor. Generally the location in the center of the main hall facing rhe main door is higher in fees.

Perhaps the most difficult in honoring an ancestor tablet initially is the location however in my view in the end it depends on your heart and capabillty. No matter how good the Feng Shui location and view is, one should visit and make prayers often and do good deeds.

Nowadays searching for a temple is a breeze with Google Map. You may engage a Feng Shui practitioner to assist in the selection and arrange an auspicious date for the prayers to install the tablet.

In my view, if possible it will be good to have the ancestor tablet at home and make offerings of incense daily. However, with the new generation or space constraint, parents may transfer the tablet to a temple so that the descendents could pray respect anytime in the temple that is deem peaceful and less burden to the descendents. For example, one need not worry, nobody could take care of the tablet after he or she passes away as one may not have children, children migrated or belief in a different religion.

As the price of the placement location is greatly affected by the view and height, one should select the location that one could afford.

Important Note: This newsletter sharing is based purely on my opinion and is an introduction to the Yin Feng Shui. It is not intended to compare with the values of any beliefs, practices and culture.


By Hu Wei Hong