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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Qing Ming Festival

Today is the QingMing Festival (清明节, pinyin: Qīngmíngjié). Tomb Sweeping Day and Clear Bright Festival are the most common English translations of Qingming Festival. Qingming has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and China, but not in Malaysia. Qing Ming, which means clear and bright in Chinese.

The Qingming Festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honor their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, and/or libations to the ancestors. The Qingming Festival in Malaysia and Singapore normally starts early in the morning by paying respect to distant ancestors from China at home altars. This is followed by visiting the graves of close relatives in the country. Traditionally, the family will burn spirit money and paper replicas of material goods such as cars, homes and phones and paper servants. In Chinese culture, it is believed that people still need all of those things in the afterlife. After the ancestor worship at the grave site, the whole family or the whole clan feast on the food and drink they brought for the worship either at the site or in nearby gardens in the memorial park, signifying family reunion with the ancestors.

My family and I went to visit my father’s grave on last Sunday. We carried incense sticks, joss sticks and paper offerings like paper money and paper clothes and any other paper accessories, and flowers for the ceremony. We also brought some favourite food of my father for the worship ceremony. There were many other prayers went for their ancestors’ worship ceremony too. This made the memorial park was very crowded. Maybe those people were also having the same thought as us as to do the ceremony on the weekend was more convenient. I saw most of the people were carried many paper accessories for their ceremony. Sometimes I have the thinking of when those papers are burning, it would cause pollution and also I think it is a waste of money. As we need to use money to buy those stuff and then we would burn them. Eventually it means that people are burning money. For me, as it is just a ceremony, we just need to buy the necessary stuff in a reasonable quantity, thus, it would not cost so much. Of course, this is just my own comment as some people might not agree with me. Anyway, every family has their own perception.

Anyway, it took my family and I about 2 hours for the ceremony. After finished the worshipping, we headed home. So, we would do it again in the next year.

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