Saturday, April 5, 2014

Little One's Participation in Qing Ming Festival- All soul's day

清明時節雨紛紛, 路上行人欲斷魂,借問酒家何處有, 牧童遙指杏花村                                     

 - 杜牧
Every Qing Ming or Ching Ming (also known as Chinese Tomb Sweeping Festival), I will recall this poem in my head over and over again. It describes the sorrowful feelings of those who are praying to their deceased ancestors. Every year, I feel the same way.

Usually, Qing Ming falls on 5th Apr, it is on the 104th day from Winter Solstice. What most Chinese do is that they would pray to the ancestors, sweep tombs, make their offerings such as food and wine. Joss money and luxury items such as house, cars (all made form paper) may be burnt to the deceased. The Chinese believe that the deceased would need these afterlife.  In Singapore, land is scarce, cremation is more common than burial. Many cemeteries have given way to redevelopment. Hence, for most Singaporean, prayers and offerings are made at columbarium or temples where the ashes or memorial tablets are kept.

Peck San Theng Columbarium 
Temporary tents are set up for people to make their offerings to the deseased.

This year is special for me because we get to bring little one to pray to our deceased close relatives for the first time. In the past, we have avoided doing so because burning offerings to ancestors can get quite smoky when every one are burning at the same time. It is also not good  for the little one's health to breath in so much smoke. This year, we think it is time to do so. For the first time, little one paid respect to her deceased relatives using joss sticks. I introduced her the deceased relatives one by one. She looked at the urns without asking much questions.

Some of the things Chinese burn for the deceased.
I have once heard if one does not pay respect to their elderly when they are alive, what sense does it make to pay respect only when they are dead? I personally feel the same. Hence, often encouraging our little one to go visit her grandparents with us. By introducing her to our Qing Ming culture, I hope she would be able to appreciate the Chinese culture and remember who her ancestors are. Yes, slowly I would be teaching her about her roots. Who these ancestors are, so that she would remember, without them, there would not be Papa and Mama. Without Papa and Mama, there would not be her.

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