Superstitious beliefs during death and funerals

As seen on the November 2019 issue of The Philippine Sentinel

Probably influenced by the Chinese, many Filipinos continue to believe in
certain practices that those living in western countries would consider

They have one for every event and even for our daily lives, especially during the observance of All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the month of November.

Your logical mind tells you that breaking these superstitions will do you no harm, but when the elderly is breathing down your neck with little reminders, you follow it anyway.

You follow it even if you don’t believe it. The Philippine culture has an abundance of “pamahiin sa patay” that to follow and remember them all is enough to keep everyone at edge.

Attending a wake almost sounds so morbid when you consider all the things you cannot do. It’s impossible to follow all of them, especially when a Filipino wake can stretch to a week or more. (It is called “viewing”, not “wake” here in Australia.)

Ridiculous as it may sound, here’s a list of “pamahiin sa patay” still
followed by many Filipinos.

1. When the wake is held in a household, cover all the mirrors with cloth. They said that the dead tries to show themselves in mirrors, so they must be covered.

2. Family members are not allowed to take a bath or comb their hair in the house where the wake is being held. But they can do it in another house.

3. Avoid sweeping the floors during a wake. This applies most specially to family members. Apparently, cleaning means you’re trying to banish the spirit of the dead from the household.

4. Do not go straight at home right after attending a wake. If you do, the dead will follow you home. Instead, drop by someplace else. Be it somebody else’s home, the neighbourhood’s sari-sari store or the mall, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you
do not directly go home.

5. Do not bring home the food served in a wake. It’s customary for Filipinos to give takeout food to visitors, but it’s not practiced during a wake. They said you’ll bring bad luck if you take home the food with you.

6. Avoid any tears from falling on the casket. The spirit of the dead will have a difficult time transitioning to the afterlife if tears fall on the casket.

7. Pregnant women are discouraged to attend a wake or to look at the dead. Doing so can serve as bad luck for the baby.

8. When the person who died is old, it’s good luck to eat the food served. Many believe that you will gain the person’s luck of living into old age just by eating the food served in a wake.

9. Pinch anyone who sneezed during the wake. Sneezing supposedly invites the dead to visit you. To avoid that, ask someone to pinch you.

10. The fist of the dead foresees the fortune of the family. If the dead’s fists are clenched, it means that the family they left behind will have troubles with money. But if the palms are open, the family won’t have financial difficulties.

11. The dead shouldn’t be wearing shoes. To avoid hearing the steps of the dead echo throughout the house, they must not be buried wearing shoes.

12. Place a broken rosary on the hands of the dead. Make sure that it’s broken so that there won’t be consecutive deaths in the family.

13. If the cause of death is murder, place chicks on the coffin. Doing so will bring the murderer to justice. The chicks’ symbolizes eating away the murderer’s conscience.

14. Those who pass by a funeral procession must throw coins. It will cover the dead’s transport cost to the afterlife.

15. Kids are passed over the casket before the grave is permanently covered. This is done so the ghost of the dead won’t visit the little kids. Another reason is because it symbolizes “burying” the kids’ sickness along with the dead.

16. After the funeral, all the curtains and bed-sheets used during the wake must be removed. A general clean up is necessary, besides for the reason that hundreds of visitors coming and going during the wake can be pretty messy. It strips away all the bad luck and negative energy from the wake.

This list is probably not complete. But even with these superstitions alone, it will be difficult to strictly follow all of these beliefs. It’s safe to say that they may not be true at all.

Death is a natural occurrence, and breaking superstitions may have nothing to do with it. Ω

━ (SOURCE: Living in the Philippines)

Updated: 2020-01-30 — 03:18:02