Memorial rite on the second death anniversary
The ancestral memorial rite held on the second death anniversary of an ancestor
Literally meaning “extremely auspicious day, ” daesang refers to an ancestral memorial rite performed on the second death anniversary of an ancestor. Without counting leap months, it is held twenty-five months after the funeral. On the day, the participants are required to wear special ceremonial garments called dambok, which are made of fine fabric woven with black threads as the warp and white as the weft. A very important ceremonial event takes place the day before an ancestral memorial rite, the changing of the spirit tablets stored in the family shrine for the sadaebongsa (Kor. 사대봉사, Chin. 四代奉祀, conducting memorial rites for the four latest generations of ancestors) custom. The spirit tablets in the shrine are rewritten to introduce the new generation of ancestors, who have passed away most recently, and to remove the most distant generation of ancestors from the shrine. The ceremony starts with the arrangement of food offerings, wine and fruits, on the ritual table, and informing the ancestors of the changes to be made. The family head as the ritual officiant rewrites the ancestral tablets after announcing this to the ancestors. He then moves the spirit tablets westward one by one to empty the easternmost bay where the new tablet is placed.
On the death anniversary, descendants perform the memorial rite according to the same procedures as sosang, the ceremony held on the first death anniversary. The participants get up early in the morning, arrange food offerings on the ritual table and, as dawn breaks, place the ancestral tablets in their seats. The family head leans his funeral stick against the door of the shrine and enters it together with other participants. All the participants perform ritual wailing for a brief period in front of the yeongjwa (Kor. 영좌, Chin. 靈座, lit. spirit seat). Participants change their clothes, re-enter the shrine, and perform a brief bout of ritual wailing. After the ritual wailing, the family chief burns incense, gives two deep ceremonial bows to the ancestral tablets, and pours a cup of liquor into the sand jar to invoke the ancestral spirits. The prayer reciter offers food to the ancestral spirits. With the family head performing choheon (Kor. 초헌, Chin. 初獻, first liquor offering), the prayer reciter carries the prayer plaque and takes his seat to the left of the family head, kneels down facing east, and reads the prayer. The family head performs ritual wailing and gives two deep ceremonial bows. He comes back to his seat and stops wailing. The aheon (Kor. 아헌, Chin. 亞獻, second liquor offering) is performed by the family head’s spouse. It follows the same procedure as that of the first wine offering, but without a prayer. She gives four deep bows to the ancestral tablets. The jongheon (Kor. 종헌, Chin. 終獻, final liquor offering) is performed by one of the relatives or guests, male or female. The procedure is the same as that of the second liquor offering. The ancestors receive the offerings and partake in the meal. All the participants wait outside the shrine until the ancestral spirits are supposed to have finished eating, and after a few minutes re-enter the shrine. The family chief and main participants perform ritual wailing, saying farewell to the departing ancestral spirits. Then a new spirit tablet is brought into the shrine. The family head and other participants continue wailing until they reach the doors, then place the new tablet in the empty bay in the east. The family head breaks the funeral stick and throws it into a corner as a symbolic action not to use it again.
In the daesang rite, participants are expected to understand the meaning of the ceremony by which the initial grief over the loss of the loved one diminishes eventually to be replaced by more serene ceremonies.