Growing up in a Buddhist family, several times a year, we would have a family reunion where we would “cung ong noi” or “cung ba ngoai” Aka have a memorial service of family members whom have passed. It was always a great way to get the entire family together and feast to our tummy’s desire.
Cúng actually means to worship. What usually goes down is we “give” our ancestors the things we have here on earth to remember them. Usually they’re flowers, chocolates, and well…a feast. Sometimes we even give them money to spend up in heaven. Essentially all things the family is eventually going to eat later on in the day…our ancestors get to eat first.
I remember asking my Dad how come we only do a memorial on the day of their death and not the day that they’re born. I cant remember exactly what he told me but it essentially was along the lines of “birthdays don’t matter…that’s a western thing…it’s more of how you lived”. As a born and raised westerner…I think it’s nice to at least acknowledge birthdays…that’s the day we were blessed with their presence after all!!!
Anyhow, today marked Brandon’s mother’s birthday. While we’re not together anymore, Brandon still means a great deal to me and I was somehow drawn to cung for the first time. And when I say first time…I mean that I did all this on my own…without the suggestion of Mom, Dad, or any other family member.
I made the decision to buy flowers a week ago with no intention to cung. Somehow last night I figured why not also buy cake? And while I was at Central Market…I figured why not share my lunch with her?? So I did. While I’m at it, I might as well light up a candle and say a prayer. So I did:
I’m 26 years old and while I have lost, I definitely have never lost someone so close to me. So I can’t fully comprehend and understand the trials and tribulations people go through when they’ve lost someone so dear to them forever. No one and nothing has ever led me to want to “worship” someone, at least on my own doing. So I’m not sure what exactly drew me to all of this…I just felt like I should celebrate and honor her today. She has never met me and has absolutely no connection with me except that I dated her son. Either way, I hope you had a good birthday, Mrs. Arcilla and that you continue to watch over your amazing family.