Family Religion

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Chinese religion is not Buddhism. Instead, it’s polytheism in that they believe in multiple gods. It’s also a dualism; they believe gods and evil have equal powers. When I was a child, we lived in a flat on the third floor.  There were red wooden plaques with images or writings represented different gods displayed around the flat. A container with ashes was attached to each plaque to hold incents. Two were hung on the side of the top and bottom part of the doorway signified to protect people’s coming and going.  There was one plaque by every window to guard the evil against coming in. One plaque was in the kitchen. The kitchen god listened to people’s gossips. At the end of a year, the kitchen god would report to heaven. So before Chinese New Year, people made offering to the kitchen god to bribe him. This was my mother’s religion.

When WWII was over, we went back to Hong Kong from China. My mom gave birth to five younger siblings, and they were about eighteen months apart. My mom’s generation didn’t practice birth control! When the third sister was sick with meningitis, my mom didn’t take her to the doctor.  She went to a temple to make an offering and asked for healing of my sister.  She also hired a monk coming to our home to chant and burn incents.  He waved the smoke from the burning incents over and around her. It didn’t heal my sister.

Eventually, my mom took my sister to the hospital. She died of high fever in her brain. My mom came home crying. When I asked where my sister was, she said the doctor kept her to take care of her. It was the way she dealt with the pain. That event gave me great impressions and cast a doubt in my mind of mom’s religion.

 

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