Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Religious China

While in China I saw many expressions of religion that are not at all common in the USA.  The picture here was taken on the sidewalk just yards from our hotel in Xi'an.  Notice the chalk circle drawn on the sidewalk.  If you look closely, you might notice that the circle has an opening on the side.

Apparently, it represents a grave.  People draw the grave, then burn papers and fake money in the circle to for the benefit of their deceased relatives.  Exactly how this benefits the dead was not clear to me.
Vendors, conveniently located near the Buddhist temple down the street, sell supplies of paper ventilated with square holes (to assist the burning process) and all sorts of oversize paper money (including Chinese & US currency).

In the morning you would find the circles all down the sidewalks with smudges of ash still in the center.  I saw these both in Xi'an and in Beijing.

I don't know what exactly is going on in the minds of the people who are participating in these practices.  But it does seem to me that they are at least thinking about fact of human mortality.

Praise God that as Christians our hope is in Jesus Christ, who overcame the power of sin and death by His resurrection.  We will not need to hope that our living relatives will burn counterfeit money for us after we are dead.  We have an eternal dwelling - provided by God for us.

1 comment:

Bobbi said...

I remember reading about these "portal shrines"...they supposedly open towards the deceased home and often have the name of that person written inside the circle part. I wondered if they meant "eternal" home or where they lived on earth...I'm thinking it's sort of like how Catholics pray people out of purgatory.