Ghost Marriage: Not Even Death Can Stop You From Getting Married

In China, death doesn't necessarily stop one from getting married. In the Chinese tradition of ghost marriage, one or both of the parties are dead.

There are many practical reasons to marry a dead spouse. For example, when an unmarried woman has no children to take care of her in old age, she can be "married" into another family. If a son died before he has descendants, his parents can arrange a ghost marriage to provide a "wife" who remains chaste, as a pretext to adopt a grandson to continue the family line. Another reason is to give the deceased a "spouse and companion" in the afterlife.

How is a ghost marriage performed? Singapore Paranormal Investigators has the story:

Next, the priest empowered the East Gate with a lighted joss paper folded in the shape of a cone, which is also known as the "fire brush". Soon after this, the priest struck the paper gate three times with the sword and declared the gate to be opened at his order. At the same time, the family members were to shout out the name of the deceased. Finally, the priest declared, "From the East Gate, out you come" The whole atmosphere became very tense as the ceremony was going on. [...]. After the "destruction" of all the gates, the priest took a paper effigy out from the centre of the squared shape model. This meant that the spirit had been rescued from the gates of hell.

The paper effigy was placed in front of the altar by the priest. Beside the paper effigy, there was another effigy which was much taller and larger in size. Madam Tham continued to explain to SPI, "The paper effigy which was just rescued from hell represents the current state of the spirit, she carries the illness and sufferings she had when she was alive. The much larger paper effigy next to her represents the healthier form. The priest will soon heal her spirit and she will regain her original healthy form again."

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