Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Burning the Lion Head for Henry Yee

(Video Courtesy of Seldon Su)

Well, after the lion dance for the funeral, the head is burned. To me, this means that there is actually a lion head going with Henry Yee. You could say to protect him or whatever. I mean it's the same as burning the money right? At some point all of us started casting our shirts in as well. Partially because we didn't wnat to bring those shirts home with us as a superstition. Zhou suk said, "No way! I'm not burning mine. I say it's luckier now. I'm so old why would I be afraid of such things."

It was just interesting that all the young men ended up being more superstitious than an old Chinese man. Just goes to show you can't stereotype.

Casting the shirt into the fire, well I guess you could say Henry Yee has a whole team going with him too. Not us. But that's what the shirts kind of represent right?

I have never even seen this ritual before, and the only other time I have seen a uniform burned in a fire was actually at Groton, when John Lyons cast a football jersey into a flame which legally we had to call a campfire instead of a bonfire. The only reason why I mention it is that football tradition must have some origin.. probably going all the way back to pre-Christian Europe. Or maybe not. Maybe someone just made it up. But I was reminded of it during this ceremony. And I mention it now only to say that we are all very similar, we humans, in our traditions and our customs and beliefs, more so than we think.

The point is to many non Chinese Americans watching this video, this ritual will not seem strange.. but instead strangely familiar, and there was some sort of bond between all of us taking part in it, a bond between us that was connected to Henry Yee's spirit, in a way that spoken or written words can't bring out as easilu as a physical act. A fire, a sacrifice, a doing of something to bring us all together in a time of mourning and grief.

1 comment:

  1. Your commentary the funeral ritual for Henry Yee were very thoughtful and insightful. Thank you for sharing them.

    Personally, I think that if there is an after-life, it must exist outside of time as we percieve it, in an eternal 'now'. If that's the case, then maybe some small part of the team's energy is indeed accompanying and supporting Mr. Yee as he transistions into that reality - even as you continue to live your life. Rituals like burning the head and your shirts could be where/when that flow of positive energy takes place between the reality we all experience and that which is beyond our awareness.

    My condolences on the loss of your friend and a great Bostonian, Henry Yee.