Last Sunday night, we saw the people in the apartment complex across from us set up a big blue tent. This area between the two buildings is quite active- we've seen old people exercising, young children playing, gardening, many men "watering" the grass and even a wedding.
So when the tent went up , we didn't think much of it. I actually assumed that it was a wide screen TV for people to watch the World Cup. That is not uncommon here.
Until we woke up on Monday morning and heard the music.
We heard traditional Chinese instruments being played. We saw people in white sashes milling around- a symbol of the family of a dead person.
The band played for quite a while and then took a lunch break. The music was actually pretty good-kind of like a jazz jam session.
Yellow flowers were set out (again, a symbol of death) and people came and sat around.
The music went on all day.
A woman came in a white cloak and wailed and prostrated herself in front of the tent. She was probably a professional wailer. We don't know what was in the tent but we assume that is was a picture of the dead person. The body wouldn't have been there because cremation is mandatory in the city.
At one point, people walked around with lit candles and incense was lit. The family also came out and mourned, including a sobbing widow. I didn't take any pictures of that.
The music went on all day and into the night. Paul's tutor told him that in the countryside, this ritual goes on for three days. It's actually illegal to do in the city because of the noise, but no one wants to reinforce it. So they let it go for a day. Another Chinese friend came over that night and said she had never seen a ritual like that. She's a city girl.
It never ceases to amaze me what we see on an ordinary day.