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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Clear Bright Day

This post contains images of tomb stones and prayer offerings which may be offensive to certain individuals. Viewer discretion advised.
Qingming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day is a festival for Chinese to tend the graves of the dearly departed. Held on every 15th day from the Spring Equinox or approximately on April 4th, 5th or 6th every year in the Gregorian calendar. In modern times, people either attend to the graves of the dearly departed either a week earlier or after for one simple reason - traffic jam!

About a month before Qingming festival, the caretakers of the cemetery will burn the entire burial ground – a quick and cheap way to kill all the weeds. Prayer shops will start to sell paper offerings. Apart from common items like hell bank notes and paper made gold bars, objects such as electronic gadgets (like i-pod and laptops) and branded garments are also burnt as an offering to the dearly departed.
Some individuals believe that the more you offer your ancestors, the more prosper you become. But hubby’s grandma doesn’t see it that way. She believes it is the thoughts that count, so she kept it simple. Fruits, noodles, biscuits, were given as food offerings. While paper offerings were kept at a minimum. When offerings tea and wine, the number of cups are always odd numbered with 3 cups of each drink being the most commonly used.
The designs and styles of tomb stones changes with time. From the changes of quality and materials, right up to some individuals who even change the language! I don’t know what year 2603 exactly refers to. But if it’s the Chinese Lunar Calendar (continuously numbered years), then the Gregorian equivalent could be in 1973.
Tomb stones erected are written to describe who is/are the occupant(s). The green colored word is the name of the deceased and the first word below his/her name is the family name. The word 妣(bi) on top of the name indicate the deceased is a wife and the word 考(kao) is for husband. The single tomb below is my husband’s grandfather’s brother’s wife while the triple occupant tomb is my husband’s grandfather’s father and mothers. Yup, great granddad had two wives which back then, is very common for the wealthy people.
Anyway, a little stone with the words 后土 refers to the Earth Deity or the guardians of the tombs which comes with every tomb. It’s sort of like a package, when you build a tomb stone, you must have a spot on the left side of the tomb (in reference the departed tomb is facing you) for the Earth Deity. Don’t ask me why because even grandma is unsure – it’s just like that she says. (^_^)
The younger generations today might not find this gathering much fun when everyone is out to pollute the skies with ash and smoke from their burning offerings. But some of us are all out to make it a fun trip especially with my hubby and his twin, busy clicking away with their cameras and attracting attention. Many people were looking at them because of taboo, they believed that by taking pictures you will disturb the deceased. But then my hubby would argue that the deceased is his ancestors, he bets they wouldn't mind (^_^). While I on the other hand, find it fun reading one tomb stone after another. But, there are some abandoned tomb stones so washed out until the words on the stone are almost gone.

All pictures provided in this post belongs to my Hubby Dan and his twin brother Tank

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful shots! I didn't know that Dennis was a twin. Going through transition is never easy, especially when it comes to something we belief :).

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  2. Apart from family members only secondary school friends knew. They both went to different universities and have different pool of friends so not many know until they met the other twin! (^_^)

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A little encouragement,
A small thought,
A simple sentence
To light up my day - Terima Kasih

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