What is a son-in-law banner?
“Son-in-law” banner is a banner used in a ritual at the Cantonese funeral ceremony in which the son-in-law pays the last respect to the deceased father or mother-in-law. They are also called “Ming Jing” (for father-in-law) or “LingZhao” (for mother-in-law). This ritual also means to bring some good luck for the son-in-law.
The “son-in-law” banner is made up a long red cloth with 2 small cloth bags (one red and one green) tied at one end of the red cloth. The deceased’s name, country of origin and age will be written on the red cloth. It will also reflect the son-in-law’s name and inscribed with words like “Wen Liang Gong Jian” (referring to the deceased or the father-in-law is a gentle and kind person) or “Shu De Ci En” (referring to the deceased or the mother-in-law is a virtuous and kind hearted person). It will then be tied onto 2 bamboo poles that are connected to each other.
This ritual is usually performed on the day of the funeral. During the ritual, both the daughter and the son-in-law will wear red shirts and its symbolic good luck. The son-in-law banner will be first placed on the chair, after the consecration of the Taoist priest, the son-in-law will hold the banner upright, representing rising high up with good luck.
The banner will then be tied to a car that the son-in-law will sit in to take to the columbarium. When the funeral begins, the son-in-law’s car will lead the way in front of the hearse to the columbarium. In the traditional funerals, the son-in-law usually lead the way in front of the hearse holding on to the banner.
The banner will either be kept by the son-in-law after the funeral or to be cremated together with the deceased by placing it on the coffin.