Yesterday was the official Chinese Qingming Day (or Cheng Beng in Hokkien, Cheng Meng in Cantonese). 4th of April which happened every year on the same date. It’s a public holiday and also the day where the air polution index goes up because of burning of paper money, paper car, paper item, gold paper, silver paper, joss stick, candle and etc. for the dead and the passed aways.
According to Wikipedia, the English names for this Chinese festival are All Souls Day, Clear Brightness Festival, Festival for Tending Graves, Chinese Memorial Day, Tomb Sweeping Day, Spring Remembrance. I never knew about these until then.
Basically in a short explanation, Qingming Festival is where the whole family goes to a graveyard of their ancestors and pay a visit to “them”, in the mean time, clean their graves. It’s a memorial where people hopes that they will remember their ancestor. However, as time goes on, some people don’t really go for Qingming already.
I skipped Qingming for many years already, the last time before this time was like 5 years ago. This year, I suddenly had a feeling following daddy, mommy and other family members to visit the graveyards.
This was a week ago and the cemetery is just located near to where I am living now but then we had to wake up early for this because it will be hot if we do the Qingming late. Early is good because it’s chilly and not so sunny. Traffic jam had been all over the graves area and they charged parking which actually don’t on normal days.
The Mt Erskine cemetery is a huge and it’s ugly. Nobody really bother to plant some greens tehre. It’s just tombstone and black burnt grasses. I wonder if this whole piece of land can be converted into commercial or residential use or not? I guess not, because removing the graveyards goes again the Chinese belief, but perhaps yes in the future because land in Penang is decreasing. People should have some cemetery planning long ago, it’s just so unorganize at some part.
First to visit was my dad’s dad’s dad. My great grandfather’s grave. I was there like taking photos more than helping them. Afterall, I did help removing grasses and twigs at the back of the tombstone.
I also did help poking the joss stick into the gold papers at the back of the tombstone. I got no idea what is this for, I was just following orders given by grandma. Haha.
It’s like a reunion for other people, but not us. There’s just a few of us, but at other grave, it’s like tens of them. What a big family. They talk, they scream, they shout, they joke and they eat.
It gets sunny as time goes by. After asking the ancestor “Have you eaten or not?” with the throwing of 2 coins, (if it’s a head and tails, mean “Have already eaten”), we proceeded to the next grave.
What a coincidence that I met my cousin which we are not really very close to. Almost stranger to each other, they are my dad’s dad’s brother’s son’s son and daughter. Confuse? =) Said hi, smiled, talked a litle bit, took a few shots and moved on.
This is what happened when there’s no maintainance on the the grave. The grass grows as tall as me. We didn’t bring a parang knife along so we were unable to clear the tall grass. So we just left it there just let it grows. I didn’t help to poke the joss stick for this because of the annoying grass. Eventually, I was just holding the umbrella for everyone. =) It’s hot.
Visited 3 graves that morning. I only remembered my great grandfather’s. Oh my god, I’ll go and ask mom again whose did I visited.
The last stop was to the indoor cemetery at Kek Lok Si where mom’s father, grandfather’s ashes kept at.
This is a vegetarian place, we didn’t bought any meat. It was a little boring waiting there. They big people were chattering around and I could just busy with my camera and mobile phone.
The last thing to do was to burn the gift for dead. As technology goes more high tech, the dead also gets more high tech. There’s paper laptop, DVD player, PlayStation and so on. I wonder is there any power supply and sofa in heaven? You burn everything but don’t have a place to sit and a power point to plug in the “electronic gadgets”, so what do you think?
The burning is really a bad scene, it’s just polluting the air and so unorganize and dirty. I wonder when Kek Lok Si can make a good place for this, it had already been 7 years and it’s still the same. Oh my god. Happy Qingming Festival. It’s over now.
By the way, do you go for Qingming?