Thursday, October 20, 2005

Culture: Blessings from a pig

Just recently, we started running our power plants. As we move closer to what we call commercial operation date (COD) of the plant, we need to do a few more tests on the units. This is what we call commissioning. There have been no problems as of yesterday ~ as far as safety is concerned. It is a big deal, since the plants do run under conditions which can be very dangerous, if there was even the slightest negligence on the part of the operators.

Hence, the site main contractor organized a thanksgiving and prayer ritual for the safety on site (안전기원제). It involves making offerings to spirits (고사 지내다), where the 'lucky pig's head' was present...

The ritual goes:

  1. Individual/group representatives of various departments are called by name to the alter. They present a packet of money, which is then stuffed into the pig's mouth upon making a declaration of their 'wishes'.

  2. Having knelt and made the offering to the pig's head, they receive the ceremonial tea, with which they sprinkle three times around the mat on which they stand on. With each sprinkle, they will shout out the wishes on their mind.

    When it was Steve's turn ~ the customer representative goes "Safety first" three times in English. Other Koreans before him basically used and re-used the phrases "No problems" (무재해) and "Safety first" (안전제일), since it was a prayer ceremony for safety.

  3. ... and everyone goes shouting their heart out, reiterating the representative's call for safety.

  4. The whole ceremony lasted for about 1/2 an hour.

I guess when its all said and done... its another good reason to drink and be merry... see you all 6:30PM at the local restaurant for barbeque and a few rounds round of drinks!


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