Taoism originates from the Chinese word Tao which means “the path or the way”.
Taoists believe that burying the deceased in a grave with good Feng Shui can result in good fortune and prosperity for their descendants. In Malaysia, it is not uncommon to see an intertwining of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism funeral rites being performed together. Even among Malaysian Chinese, ceremonies may be conducted according to each dialect group, namely, Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese, Teochew, Hainanese, Foochow etc.
Taoist funeral rites can be quite elaborate as they believe that rituals and chanting performed by Taoist monks are required to guide the deceased onto the right path and into Paradise. This is done so that the soul is not left to wander around. Taoist funeral processions usually go on for 3 to 5 days consecutively. In some cases, this could go on for 7 days, depending on the family’s wishes and the deceased’s social status.
Joss paper (or paper money) and papier-mâché items such as luxury cars, servants, houses, credit cards, smartphones and tablets etc. are burnt as offerings to the deceased. It is believed that these items will provide comfort to the deceased in the afterlife. Friends and family visiting the funeral service are required to light joss sticks at the altar as a sign of respect to the deceased.
For Taoists, there are no restrictions in terms of the choice between burial and cremation.