Qingming Festival

I don’t observe Qingming but tagged along with my parents and aunt when they went to visit my dad’s brother and parents, and my great grandmother on Sunday. It was the last day of Qingming so there were plenty of people at Choa Chu Kang cemetery that day. The atmosphere was almost festive and there were some families who had brought along food and drinks and were having a picnic in front of their loved one’s tombstone.

My folks began by using water and rags to clean the tomb thoroughly. Then they laid out food offerings and bags of ‘paper money’. My mum even brought along black coffee for my great grandma. I bought two little bunches of bright yellow orchids from a roadside stall while my parents and aunt burnt some incense and paid their respects. The joss paper was folded into ingots and burnt. My aunt also flung a handful of ‘paper money’ over the tomb. I noticed that when other families flung ‘paper money’ over the tomb, they would shout “Huat ah!!” very loudly.

After my mum and aunt were done ‘talking’ to my great grandma and getting her answers by throwing two coins into the air and observing how they landed, we made our way over to CCK Columbarium. While my great grandma occupies ‘landed property’, my paternal grandparents and uncle have to share a niche in a ‘high-rise’. Even the dead have to deal with land scarcity woes!

cleaning the tomb

cleaning the tomb

lighting incense

lighting incense

paying their respects

paying their respects

burnt offerings

burnt offerings

speaking to the departed

speaking to the departed

trying to communicate with Ah Zou

trying to communicate with Ah Zou

guardian

guardian

reading the signs

reading the signs

folding paper ingots

folding paper ingots

sending money to the other side

sending money to the other side

going up in smoke

going up in smoke

at the columbarium

at the columbarium

niche

niche

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4 thoughts on “Qingming Festival

  1. lyn

    Since I’m christian, my part in the grave-sweeping was to repaint the words on the tomb, instead of the burnt offerings. Haven’t gone since the kids were born, am thinking of bringing them when they’re slightly older…

    Reply
    1. delphine Post author

      My parents don’t expect me to take part in the rituals because I’m a Christian but I was happy to be there to help in other ways. I want to bring my kids too, maybe in a couple years’ time.

      Reply
  2. imp

    I’ve never done this before! The family and the extended branches don’t do it either. Always find it fascinating in its nod back to family roots and a sense of identity. Thanks so much for sharing the intimate family photos. I like them in greyscale.

    Reply

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