the demise of Sir Lee Kuan Yew prompted me to blogspost this page. He passed away on 23/4 & cremated on 29/4. 7 days is long but not unusual. His cremation was on the 1st 7th day. 头七。
Chinese whether Taoist or Buddhist uses each 7th day as a significant mark for the decease. well, even 7th day is least mention coz death is link to odd nos.
for the Taoist especially Cantonese & Hakka, there's Soul Returning, 回魂，meaning the deceased returns to visit his or her family members. seriously, it's very true! this happening base on the priest's calculation will usually take place by the 3rd 7th day, 三七。
those who can afford it, will engage monk, nun or priest to do chanting for the deceased. of course in Taoism will burn paper house, maid, car etc. Buddhism often suggests self-service, meaning chanting can be done by family members & friends.
5th 7th day, 五七，traditionally is praying service offer by the deceased's daughters. in other words, if the deceased has no daughter, this ceremony is not needed. my friend was upset as his 2 sisters who were well off didn't bother with it. he went to the temple & requested the nun to do a simple chanting for his dad.
7th 7th is 49 days, 七七， is the end of the departure journey. it's believes that a good person will be reborn as human, join Buddha land or Heaven within 49 days. usually a service is done to mark the close.
100th day & 1st anniversary is optional to do an event.
the deceased may not be your family member but has great influence on you. it's all right with or without the knowledge of the deceased's family, you do something religiously or a charitable act in his or her name. Buddhist trusts such act will benefit the deceased although might already reborn, & you too. it's more real to act on the 7th day.
i'll do a prayer for Sir Lee Kuan Yew on apr 12, 3rd 7th day. in my dream of Him is too real!
kindly read also Dream of LKY, Dream of MH 370 & Soul Returning.