Friday, May 21, 2010

rituals involved in house moving

compared to our parents' generation and ours, young people nowadays tend to change their home addresses more often. our parents tended to stay put at one place for decades. in this age, relocating has become a matter of fact thing. some people move house every few years. some don't just move from one district to another, they move across borders, from one country to another.

housewarming is a practice among the younger set of people. it is an occasion for them to show off their new house or flat to their relatives and friends. usually, the visitors will come with small gifts for the new owners. christians hold a spiritual housing warming referred to as house blessing.

the other day, i was having lunch at tekka market when i saw a middle-aged couple with one of these red charcoal stoves. immediately, it struck me that they must be moving into a new place.

'housewarming' takes on a different form and meaning for the more superstitious ('pangtang') folks. the traditional chinese observe a certain ritual which involves using a red stove. i am not sure of the significance of this practice. i was told by a friend that the stove with the burning charcoal had to be placed at the threshold. the two house-owners, presumably the husband and wife, had to walk over it, uttering some 'lucky' words as they skipped over the flame.

chinese, especially, are very particular when it comes to moving in to a new place. an auspicious day and time would have to be picked based, sometimes, on consulting the tong shui. then, there is one month when this kind of activity comes to a standstill - the seventh lunar month.

aside from this 'burning success' ritual, there are other practices performed with some variations depending on the dialect group.

i have been told that the hokkiens would buy the biggest ripe pineapple with the crown in tact and roll in into the house. another person told me that he actually smashed the pineapple on the floor of the house he was moving into, then quickly closed the door and left the bits and pieces around for a few days. the pineapple is associated with good luck.

another ritual is the sprinkling of rice grains all over the various rooms in the house. i suppose rice is associated with having enough to eat.

if it is not a brand new house, that is, one that has been occupied before, then the new owner may also sprinkle salt to chase away all the 'bad qi'.

i asked another friend if sugar was one of the items included in this ritual. 'crazy, you want to invite ants into your house even before you move in.'

on the day of moving in, some families switch on all the lights in the house and leave the lights on for a while. some also boil a kettle of water using the same charcoal stove.

now i know why i have not struck 4-d, toto or the singapore sweep. i did not carry out any of these rituals when i moved house about 12 years ago.


Victor said...

You lose to me. I have stayed in the same house for nearly 21 years already.

Anthony used to be someone who moved house once every few years. Knowing how troublesome it is to move house, I asked him once, "Why do you do that? Are you mad?" And back came his reply, "No, I am nomad."

I guess being more sane meant that I lost out to him in that way - I failed to catch the property market on its upswing. Otherwise, I could have been a multi-millionaire now. Sigh.

yg said...

victor, wait for the next downswing/downturn to catch it if you are not satisfied being the millionaire that you are now. maybe can become a billionaire.

peter said...

my super superstitious motherinlaw also picked certain time to move in and like u say burn that far nothing happened (like BIG SWEEP, TOTO). I still waiting....

yg said...

peter, must be ever hopeful; big one coming your way. the truth is good health and happiness are more important than striking it rich.

Thimbuktu said...

Wang, Wang...Huat ah, Huat ah! Kong Hei Fatt Choy!

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I definitely agree with you, as a student I don't remember how many apartments I switched. This days we became less attached to a place we living in and decision to move comes more easel. So instant.

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