Mar 31, 2010

special post - qingming festival

this morning we woke up at 6am and drove about 2 and a half hours up north to sungai siput, ipoh to offer our respects to the ancestors of the chong family. we arrived in sungai siput at about 9 ish and that was considered late by many, including my mil :) cos she couldn't get us to wake up at 4am this morning ;p. before going to the graves we had breakfast at a very quaint roadside shack (this is where the best food is served!)

which was situated right beside a wet market ...

the store owners gave me this astonished look when i started taking pics of their veges. one even asked me if i were a tourist!! ahhh ... the things we bloggers do!

after breakfast and my mil buying last minute stuff for the prayers, we adjourned to an auntie's place to drop off llara kaye and my mil :) usually every year, my mil will do the prayers with jason, but this year she's decided to chill at her sister's place with her grand daughter, and officially "passed the baton" to me to continue with her duties with jason ;) oops!!

such a quaint old house this is! jason and his family use to live 2 houses away from here. i think this must be llara's first visit to a kampong* house :)

*kampong = village

after dropping them off, jason and i proceeded to the gravesite, which was just a couple of streets away actually. usually the grave sites will be filled with tall grass (they just let them grow, i dunno why) but during the qingming festival, the caretakers would burn down the grass so that visitors can actually find their ancestors' tombs!

that's jason praying at his paternal grandfather's tomb. see the burnt grass all around?

the festival of qingming (or the chinese all-souls-day) falls on the 15th day of the spring equinox, which usually occurs on the 4th or 5th of april, and this is the day chinese families all over the world would make their annual pilgrimage to the graves of their ancestors (usually the patriarch side). the festival usually begins a week before, so that people who cannot make it on that particular day can choose any day within that week to do their pilgrimage. this is the time when we gather to clean and sweep the graves of our deceased ancestors, offer them food, tea and wine, burn candles and incense and do a bit of prayers and worshipping.

we also burn paper offerings which can come in any form you can imagine ... gold and silver ingots, clothes and shoes all branded!, TVs, laptops, ipods, mobile phones, porche ... yes, and lamborghini as well, yachts, houses and even paper maids! we believe that "they" continue to live like us in the afterlife :)

of course we do not do the extreme ;p ... can you spot paper shirts all folded and packed like you would buy at the stores? can you see the gold-ish stuff? that's the gold ingots which my mil tirelessly folds bags and bags of them! what do you know ... my mil is a paper-crafter!

it took us a good hour and a half to complete the rounds ... cos we did quite a few ancestors today and you actually have to walk up a hill filled with tombs and find the right ones! we also cleaned the graves quite a bit.

one of the final visits we made was to jason's paternal grandma's tomb. usually the kids would bury their deceased parents together in a shared tomb, but in this case, jason's grandma was a christian, so they did a completely different ceremony for her when she passed and buried her in her own tomb, tho not far from where her husband was resting.

flowers, fruits and her favorite coffee :)

what an interesting day i had! my first official qingming with jason for his ancestors :) and of course, being the green horn, plus punishment for waking up at 6am instead of 4am ... it was deemed appropriate that i brought home a "souvenir"

we were right there ... under the 11am-12noon sun :)

happy pimping! :)
and tomorrow ... i'll be in pain!


  1. what a wonderful post. thank you for sharing the traditions and reverence! very special.

  2. Fabulous post, my friend! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful tradition with us! And yikes - that sunburn looks so painful! I hope it fades quickly!

  3. Oh, I want to go and get you some aloe for that sunburn. It was lovely to read about your traditions. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Luthien,
    Wow, this post is really interesting.I've never heard about this before.
    I laughed about mil and her antics.(getting you up early and then not going along with you)
    Oh dear, that sunburn looks very painful.
    Lots of Panadol, water and rest.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. ~what a beautiful way to honour and celebrate those who have passed on...your post was filled with such l♥ve on so many levels...thank you for sharing this moment with us...truly special! as for your punishment...ouch...heal quickly dear sweet one...much l♥ve and light and brightest blessings upon you and yours always~

    p.s....congrats on your wedsite!!! i had tried yesterday and kept getting an error message...thrilled it worked today...may this be a new journey filled with an abundance of prosperity and only goodness to come forth for you!

  6. Ouch! That sunburn looks sore!! Poor you! Thanks for sharing a bit more about your culture with us - it's so interesting!! How was it that your husband's grandma was a christian (if it's not too rude to ask)? I loved the photo of the market - all that gorgeous food, oh, and the lovely house! xx

  7. hey ladies :)
    thank you all for your sweet comments! i'm glad you all enjoyed this post :) the ins and outs of this festival are actually still quite new to me, cos in all the previous years i have just been a "follower" so to speak. all the rituals and the preps were done by the elders :) i guess that's gonna change now since the change-over is now official :)

    faerwillow :) ooo.... glad it's working for you already! YAY!!

    catherine :) i dun really know but apparently she converted in the last year of her life. tho she does have 2 daughters who are devout christians who now live in australia :)

  8. WOW, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful tradition- I loved reading every bit!

  9. My dear,dear Luthien!-)))*

    Such a great and very intresting post,my sweet friend!
    So impressed me with this tradition,thank you,Luthien!

    I have in my Easter post also one big Russian-Ukrainian tradition...

    Wish you and you familie sunny,blessed Easter days and may you Easter basket be filld with a nice and sweet suprises,my dear!!!

    Much Love and many hugs,


  10. How interesting, Luthien. Thank you for sharing such a meaningful time in your lives. The festival sounds like it is rich in history. That sunburn could use some Aloe Vera. Right from the plant is good too, if you have one. Poor dear.
    ((Hugs)) to you my dear friend. May the weekend bring you a bit of peace.


thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post :) it makes my day!!
Luthien :)