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Home Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony Ancestral Remembrance Service – Glossary

C. Ancestral Remembrance Service – Glossary

Ancestral Remembrance Service
In the Chinese term for the Ancestral Remembrance Service 釋奠典禮 (shìdiàn diǎnlǐ), the Chinese characters for offerings 釋 (shì) and 奠(diàn) both mean presenting respectfully. This means that offerings such as music and dance are presented during the Ancestral Remembrance Service, in reverence of the legendary Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, and the ancestors of ten-thousand family names.

First, second and third sounding of the drum
Also known as the “three sounds of the drum,” this refers to the solemn and dignified soundsfrom the drum, accompanied by the resonating sound of the bell, facilitating a feeling of deep veneration. This serves as a reminder that the service is about to commence, an important ritual is about to take place, and conveys the need for participants to be strictly reverential.

Opening the entrance
Opening the door panels and preparing to welcome the spirits.

Light the firecrackers
Serves to (i) invite the spirits to inspect, and (ii) show veneration and remembrance.

Reception for the ancestral spirits
Means to welcome the ancestral spirits.

Presentation of the food offering
Means to respectfully present the food offering.

Presentation of the incense
Means that the Principal will present the incense as an offering.

Presenting the offerings
The ritual of principal presentation takes place three times – the initial, second and final principal presentations. The Initial Principal Presentation involves presenting the silk (an item of finest silk) and the bronze wine vessel (of wine or water).

Ancestral Remembrance Service Reading
During the Ancestral Remembrance Service, the Reading to our ancestors conveys our prayers and offers a historical review.

Consuming the ceremonial offerings
Refers to the ceremonial wine (consecrated wine or water) and offerings (consecrated vegetarian cake), and represents accepting the blessings and support of the ancestors.

Removal of the food offerings
After the conclusion of the Ancestral Remembrance Service, the offerings are removed.

Sendoff for the ancestral spirits
Means providing a respectful sendoff for the ancestral spirits.

Observing the incineration
Refers to the incineration, which is observed from a distance. Incineration of the Ancestral Remembrance Service Reading and the silk is a form of offering. It signifies the conclusion of the Ancestral Remembrance Service and the Send off for the ancestral spirits with utmost sincerity.

Closing the entrance
Means closing the entrance panels.

Refers to the orderly departure of the Principal, the Assistant Officers, the Ceremonial Supervisor, the Master of Ceremony and the whole team of ceremonial attendants, musicians, etc.

Conclusion of the service
Means that the formalities of the Ancestral Remembrance Service are complete.