From time to time we consider the purpose of a funeral as an event which enables mourners to express complex, disorderly emotion. Funerals in countries untouched by, or resistant to, chilly Nordic Protestant norms of self-restraint are notable for an exuberance which chilly Nords tend to regard as unbefitting, chaotic and emotionally incontinent.
It’s not as if chilly Nords don’t experience emotion. Why do they bottle it up? Perhaps it’s that they don’t like what it does to them.
Remember the polarisation of reactions to the grief for Diana?
Consider, also, the tendency of Brits to ugly brutishness when they let their hair down, especially when they’ve a drop taken. Perhaps they are right to keep it bottled.
Dressed in mini skirts barely covering their hips, the two girls took to the neon-lit stage and moved vigorously to the loud pumping pop music. Their job: to appease the wandering spirits.
As the temple facade in the background changed colour from the fireworks lighting up the Taiwanese night sky, the show climaxed with pole-dancing and striptease in front of an audience consisting of men, women and children.
Folk religion in Taiwan is a unique mixture of the spiritual and the earthly, and one of its most remarkable manifestations is the practice of hiring showgirls to perform at festivals, weddings, and even funerals.
“The groups attract crowds to our events and they perform for the gods and the spirits to seek blessings,” said Chen Chung-hsien, an official at Wu Fu Temple, a Taoist landmark in north Taiwan’s Taoyuan county.
“They have become part of our religion and folk culture.”
[Some] see it as a natural extension of a traditional folk culture lacking in the sharp separation of sex and religion often seen in other parts of the world.
Marc Moskowitz, an anthropologist at the University of South Carolina, said the practice evolved out of the special Chinese concept of “hot and noisy”, which brims with positive connotations.
“In traditional Chinese and contemporary Taiwanese culture this signifies that for an event to be fun or noteworthy it must be full of noise and crowds,”