Ching Ming Festival = Tomb Sweeping Day

April 2nd is Ching Ming Festival.

It is also known as the Tomb Sweeping Day which is similar to Christians All Souls Day.

burning joss sticks by pixabay
burning joss sticks by pixabay

This is a special event that all Chinese families.

It falls on the 3rd month of the Chinese Lunar calendar ( February is the 1st month where Chinese New Year was celebrated).

This is the day where my mother in law and her adult children plus grandchildren would visit our deceased father-in-law and grandparents in law at the cemeteries. ( 2 different locations )

 

the place where we can burn the effigies, money paper by peachpurple
the place where we can burn the effigies, money paper by peachpurple

 

Schedule practiced every Ching Ming

Wake up time: 6am

Reach at cemetery : 7am-7.30am

Prayer time: 8am 

Things to do: 

Everyone has to do a task for our ancestors.

  1. Tidy the headstones
  2. Remove the tall weeds and grass
  3. Light up the incense
  4. Burnt money paper
  5. Burnt effigies that resemble cars. clothes, necessities items,  motorbikes, cellphones, sandals, etc.
  6. While burning the money paper, we had to shout “huat ah !” which means “PROSPERITY”- help us to get rich
  7. Place real edible food in front of the tombstone in order to allow the deceased member to “consume” the food first as an honor and respect. ( had to wait at least 1 hour )
  8. Food displayed are steamed bao ( means to win ), roast pork or chicken ( means every meal we will have meaty food), dumplings ( to replace rice- means our rice bowl- source of income) and cakes or sweets ( means  happiness )
  9. After 1 hour, we had to pray to the deceased member starting from the eldest son/daughter, followed by the 2nd and 3rd, so on and so forth until the youngest grandchild.
  10. Each member had to hold 3 burning joss tick, clasp both hands together, kneel down and speak softly or in the heart, bow down 3 times.
  11. When everything is done, the food is shared among ourselves, either we can take the food home to heat up or consume there with ashes and dirt on the food we had prayed.
  12. Make sure all the trash are cleaned up before leaving the site.
heel money or money paper by peachpurple
heel money or money paper by peachpurple

 

Serving cold baos to our ancestors by peachpurple
Serving cold baos to our ancestors by peachpurple

The only disadvantage is the hot, steamy, weather. It is usually hot, dry and sweaty when the sun comes out at 8..30am in the morning.

By the time we finished the prayer and eating, it would be around 11am.

That is when my son gets very temperamental and shows tantrums. He can’t stand sweating under the hot sun.

I did tried to shelter him with a big umbrella but without any wind blowing, he sweats profusely.

Copyright allrights reserved and photos by peachpurple

Some photos by pixabay

 

Christian : All Souls Day – November

1st of November is All Souls Day, it is a day where all Catholics and Christians all over the world to celebrate solemnly (sadly) which is a compulsory event.

 

cemetery by pixabay
cemetery by pixabay

 

All Souls Day is similar to the CHinese Ching Ming where people pray for their dead ancestors, relatives or family members in order to remember them in their memories.

 

As for us Catholics and Christians, we usually offer prayers in churches, at home and visit the cemeteries of our ancestors.

flowers by peachpurple
flowers by peachpurple

Our family ritual

 

My dad, my brother and I used to visit my great-grandparents, grandparents (fraternal parents ), aunties and uncles ( my father’s siblings ) and my cousin ( passed away because he was ill ) before November 1st or 2nd.

 

My brother said that we should try to avoid massive traffic jams at the cemeteries as it was difficult to drive through the murky path which isn’t a paved road at all and to avoid hot weather ( he hated hot sunny weather that makes him sweat ).

 

Hence, we usually visit the Catholic cemeteries on weekdays instead of weekends to avoid the traffics jams and soaring price of cut flowers.

 

Expensive flowers and candles

 

Do you know that the florist would mark up the cost of each flowers by a dollar on these special occasions? They aren’t honest at all! All they want is to earn extra money out of us !

 

My dad and I used to buy 36 stalks of flowers from a Chinese lady florist for years. We have to visit 12 of our ancestors in 2 different cemeteries, one on the North and the other on the South of the state.

 

We would offer 3 stalks of flower for each person and 3 packs of white candles to light up with additional short prayers.

 

My beloved grandma

 

As for my grandmother whom we loved most and still could remember her in our memories, we took extra care by bringing along brushes, scrubs, water and soaps to wash her tomb stone and re-write the fading marks of her name on the stone with a red marker pen.

 

Oh yes, we also bring 2 umbrellas to shield the hot heat and 3-4 of 1 litre water bottles as my brother can’t stand sweating and my old daddy always felt giddy after the visiting.

 

That is how we spent on All Souls Day 2 years ago.

 

No more All Souls Day for us

 

After my mom was hit with a stroke 2 years ago, my dad had high blood pressure and my brother had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ), we had not done our part on All Souls Day ever since the illness hit them.

 

I can’t drive so nobody could take me there. I wish my hubby would but he is the superstitious type.

 

Geez, when will I have the chance to pay homage to my ancestors again on All Souls Day? 10 years later when my boy grows up?

 

…………………….

originally written by peachpurple

photo credit: flower by peachpurple

cemetery by pixabay