“Shou Wei Qian” is the money held in the hands of the deceased. It symbolizes the last wealth left by the deceased for the family members. This has been a known tradition passed down for generations.
According to a senior Cantonese Taoist priest relate, Cantonese funeral customs in the 1950s and 1960s, were mostly burials.
The “Shou Wei Qian” was used by the deceased family members to pay for certain ritual expenses after the burial and mourning period.
On the third day after the burial, family member has to return to the cemetery to pray and the “Shou Wei Qian” is used to buy offering. Similarly, for the first seven days to the last seven days, the offering mostly comes from “shou Wei Qian” and so on. As for the reason why family members used the “Shou Wei Qian” to buy offering is not known.
As to the present time, this “Shou Wei Qian” has evolve to symbolizes the last fortune left by the deceased.
According to the customs of the Cantonese, only the deceased eldest son’s and grandson can share the “Shou Wei Qian”. Daughter is considered as outsider after marriage, they are not given a share of the “Shou Wei Qian”. Today, the custom had also evolved to every family member can have a share of this “Shou Wei Qian”.
‘Shou Wei Qian’ ceremony
Usually, funeral staff will ask the family members of the deceased to prepare a red envelope with certain amount of money. There is no restriction on the amount but the total figure should end with a digit ‘8‘ to symbolize wealth. eg, $188, $288. When the Taoist priest finish his chanting, the funeral staff will remove the red envelope from the deceased hand and return it to the deceased’s family for distribution.