An ancestral tablet symbolises the importance of filial piety and paying your utmost respect to your departed loved ones and ancestors. Therefore, it is essential to buy a good-quality ancestral tablet. Before we move on to the topic, one may ask, “why must I buy an ancestral tablet if I already chose a good columbarium niche for my dearly departed?”
An Ancestral Tablet is the Resting Place for The Memory Soul
In Taoism, a human being has three immortal souls and seven mortal forms, which are also known as ‘san hun qi po’ (三魂七魄). When a person dies, it is said that the mortal forms will die along with the body while the three souls live. The three souls are known as Ling Hun 灵魂 (Spiritual soul), Jue Hun 觉魂 (Subconscious or Memory Soul), and Sheng Hun 生魂 (the Living Soul). These are also similar in Mahayana Buddhism in the concept of Trikaya or the concept of the three bodies.
The three souls will travel on their independent journeys. Ling Hun (Spirit Soul) will be travelling on its path to reincarnation which will take 49 days after death. This soul will enter a new phase of life after rebirth.
Next, there is the Sheng Hun (Living Soul) which will stay with the remains of the deceased after cremation. In this case, the urn and the columbarium niche are the final resting place for the living soul. A good Feng Shui niche location will enhance the well-being (environment) of the living soul, which will shower more incredible blessings on its living family and generations.
Last but not least is Jue Hun (Memory or Subconscious Soul). In Buddhist terms, this soul is known as the Karma soul, whereby the ancestor’s good deeds, sins, and good memories are stored in this soul. Think of it like a computer memory chip, whereby stores all the good karma the deceased experienced when they were still living.
By understanding these three unique types of souls, we can then clearly comprehend why we need to install an ancestral tablet even if we already have a columbarium niche. The soul in the ancestral tablet is simply the soul of our ancestors’ memories. By worshipping our ancestors via the pedestal and maintaining it well, we are actually safeguarding the good karma of our ancestors. Our ancestors’ good karma or deeds will shine on us such that we, the descendants, will enjoy the benefits of our ancestors’ good karma or deeds.
Okay, now we are clear of the need to buy an ancestral tablet; the next question is where to buy one.
Buying an Ancestral Tablet
There are three ways to buy an ancestral tablet.
1. Purchase from a Temple or Columbarium
Since we understand that the Memory Soul will reside in the ancestral tablet, we need to buy a good quality one. We recommend one purchase from a temple or the columbarium with their own senior Taoist or Buddhist priests.
It is because we want the priests to bless the ancestral tablets to protect the memory soul better. Other than that, temples and columbariums, such as Nirvana Memorial Garden, will always ensure that the ancestral tablet’s quality is pure and exquisite. The source (from the manufacturer) must be of a good standard and responsibility.
2. Purchase from a Feng Shui or Altar Accessories shop
Some customers purchase the ancestral tablet from a Feng Shui master or an altar accessories shop. So long they are renowned and reputable, it is also okay to buy from them. It is because, knowing the essence of a good pedestal, a reputable shop or Feng Shui master will not sell you an ancestral tablet that is of low quality, used, or manufactured from an unknown source.
3. Purchase Online
Unless you are familiar with the reputation of the online seller that sells you the ancestral tablet, it is okay to purchase online. However, we do not recommend that for a few reasons.
Firstly, we need to find out the source of the raw material. It is exceptionally vital when it comes to crystal materials. Why? Because crystals are extracted from the soil (underground). Crystals used to make ancestral tablets must therefore be pure and of good quality. It is inauspicious to purchase an ‘uncleaned’ crystal that was dug from polluted soil or burial grounds. Such unclean crystals will cause bad feng shui to the deceased’s family. The same goes for wood, stone, or other natural materials. Ask the seller for the source of the raw materials. If the seller gives you a vague answer, do not risk buying the ancestral pedestal.
Secondly, invest in good-quality ancestral tablets. Since the memory soul of your ancestor will be residing in the ancestral tablet, you will need to ensure that it is of the highest quality and design. Do not use cheap plastic materials or artificial materials.
Thirdly, we need to determine whether or not the ancestral tablet has been used. A used ancestral tablet is a big no-no and a big disrespect for our ancestors. Hence, if you prefer to purchase online, make sure that you look into the reviews about the quality of the product as well as the reliability and integrity of the seller.
Placing the Ancestral Tablet and Letting the Memory Soul Resides
After purchasing the ancestral tablet, the next step is to decide where you want the ancestral tablet to be. At your residence? In a temple or a columbarium? There is no hard-and-fuss about where to put it or where not to put it.
Three Cs that may influence your decisions are:
Well, the most convenient place is, of course, home. Some people prefer to worship their ancestors at high-end columbariums like Nirvana Memorial Garden, with good Feng Shui and traffic accessibility. People who installed ancestral tablets in their residences can feel more at ease and close to their ancestors.
The cost of installing an ancestral tablet at home is the allocation of the altar space. The altar space may be a hurdle if you intend to sell your house a few years later since the potential buyer may need help understanding the reason for the altar space. The cost of installing the ancestral tablet in a columbarium or a temple is also high. However, the cost is necessary as it is used to maintain the altar suite, the facilities, the priest, and the service staff. Therefore, you will need to weigh the pros and cons of each decision.
Ask yourself whether you have the time to clean and maintain your ancestral tablet. Or send prayers regularly to it. If your answer is yes, it is okay to place it at home in your altar area. If your answer is no, you should put it in Nirvana columbarium, where a dedicated staff team will regularly clean and maintain the altar suites and the ancestral tablets.
Once you decide where to place the ancestral tablet, the final step is to engage a Buddhist or Taoist priest to ‘call’ the soul to reside on the pedestal. We hope that you understand better why you need to buy an ancestral tablet for a dearly departed and where to buy it.
About Nirvana Memorial Garden
Nirvana columbarium houses high-quality suites to accommodate your ancestral pedestals, providing the best environment and facilities for worshippers. Learn more about Nirvana Singapore today.