“Remember to calm yourself when bearing the tea, with clean hands and clean hearts, be light-footed and do remember to smile,” said Lee Chia Ling, a teacher of the Tzu Chi Parent-Child Bonding Class, as she demonstrated the steps for the children to follow, while speaking soft words of encouragement to bolster the children’s confidence.
On 23rd April 2017, the Parent-Child Bonding Class organised an event to celebrate the traditional value of filial Piety. In the short span of two hours, 340 children and their parents were divided into three groups - Red, Yellow and Blue - respectively, in a ceremonial standing style to offer tea to their seated parents, as well as made creative frames (for their family photos) and fruit platters. On this day, the Jing Si Hall was filled with an air of light-hearted chatter, and a warm air of family fun.
“The first mouthful of tea, ‘send good wishes from the heart’; the second mouthful of tea, ‘say good wishes with your lips’; the third mouthful of tea, ‘act with good intentions’.”
Teacher Lee Chia Ling elegantly guided the kids in the tea ceremony, and reminded the parents present to offer their own elderly parents a cup of tea.
The art of serving tea is an unspoken way of cultivating character, and to offer tea to elders is a form of showing respect and filial piety towards them. After each group of children was trained in the art of serving tea by Lee, they presented cups of piping hot tea to their parents onstage. The activity demonstrated the beauty of tea art, from washing the tea sets, washing tea leaves, making tea, appreciating tea, and pouring tea, to bringing the tea to their parents. Meanwhile, as the parents onstage quietly sipped the hot tea with their lips, they could feel the love from their children, which warmed their hearts.
Mdm Wang Yi Fang, who accompanied her 9-year-old daughter, Li Yan Ying to attend the filial piety activity, was deeply touched to witness how her young daughter followed the teacher’s instructions, skilfully followed the steps in preparing the tea, before presenting a heart-warming cup of red tea to her. Mdm Wang was happy to share that ever since her girl started attending the Parent-Child Bonding Class, she had often asked her not to eat meat to show their love for animals and the earth. Thus, she had gradually stopped buying meat, and little Yan Ying even asked her to stop buying leather shoes.
Unspoken Love and Understanding
“The tree wants to be still, but the wind keeps blowing; the son wishes to serve his parents, but they are no longer around……”
A video, which depicted a Chinese teaching about filial piety, was being shown to the audience, and many parents were moved to the point that they could no longer hide their feelings for their loved ones (their own parents).
Mr Li Guang Yi, a parent, recalled that after graduating from primary school in Malaysia, his father wanted him to learn independence by sending him to a faraway Independent Chinese High School in Malaysia for further studies. After graduating from High School, he pursued further studies in Taiwan. After completing his studies, he landed a very good job in Taiwan with bright prospects. But after working for a year, he decided to give up his career and return to Malaysia for a few years, to wait upon his aged parents.
Presently a member of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), Li Guang Yi shared that although his father is rather stern, and is not good at expressing love to his children, he has changed his life through his actions. He learned from his father, how to guide and nurture his own son, Li Huan You. The father and his young son demonstrated a deep understanding of each other through their interactions in the tea ceremony, and the making of a photo frame and fruit platter; the unspoken love between the pair went beyond words. Li Huan You also used his creativity to form a “picture” of his father’s face with different types of fruits, as a token of his gratitude for his father’s love.
“I will pour water for my dad, and scoop rice for him to eat. Daddy often accompanies me in drawing,” said Ye Qian Ting. The little girl deemed it her natural duty to do these things for her doting father.
“I am thankful to Tzu Chi for organising these parent-child activities, usually, I have little time to accompany my girl, the filial piety celebration enabled us to have more intimate interactions, and deepened our ties,” commented her father, Mr Ye Shun Tian.
While appearing to be a day to encourage and celebrate filial piety, the event was in fact an opportunity for parents and their children to share precious moments together. Through the carefully-planned and interesting activities, the parents could enter their children’s inner world, while at the same time, deepening their relationship with each other.