Thursday, 3 April 2008

Ching Ming or Grave Sweeping Day

I'm sure some of you might not know what Ching Ming is all about. Here is a brief history of Ching Ming that I picked from here.

Ching Ming Festival is one of the 24 segments in the Chinese Calendar. It normally falls on the 4th or 5th of April because it's depended on the Cold Food Day (105 days after previous year's winter solstice). In the old days, Ching Ming was celebrated 3 days after the Cold Food Day but Cold Food Day was shorted to one day and then abandoned. So nowadays, Ching Ming and Cold Food Day fall on the same day although no one celebrate Cold Food Day any more. Ching Ming is also known as "Remembrance of Ancestors Day" or 'Grave Sweeping Day'. This year it falls on 4th April.

The date is indicated on the Chinese calendar with the two characters: ching, meaning pure or clean, and ming, meaning brightness. The Ching Ming observance may have had its beginnings as the original religion in China. Ancestor worship is the only native religion to China. All others, including, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, were imported from outside of China. Confucianism and Taoism originated in China but are philosophies rather than religions. In the philosophy of Confucianism, a form of ancestor worship is incorporated with the virtue of filial piety.

We actually went to clean the graveyard last Sunday as it was the best time for most of us and it's our off day from work. I went there with my parents at around 7ish am! Don't want to go there quite late cos it can get really really hot! As we arrived, there already many people there! Look at the cars that are parked!

Just like every other year, my uncles and aunties will be there too. In this modern day, there is not much needs to weed the area as most of it is made of concrete. Other than that, we do clean the headstone, and replacing the wilted flowers with fresh ones, and also the lighting of incense and burning of imitation paper money.

The burning of the imitation money is for the deceased to use in the afterlife. And also not forgetting burning imitation cigarette, Versace shirt, shoes and even a house ^_^

In addition, food is laid out in front of the headstone as an offering to the spirits of the deceased. The food that we offer are a steamed whole chicken (including the head, which is later twisted off), cut roast pork with crunchy skin attached, and some other food that you can see in the picture. In addition, three Chinese wine cups are arranged above the food.

The head of the household usually begins by bowing three times with the wine cup in hand, then pouring the wine on the ground just in front of the headstone. This procedure is usually repeated three times. Each member of the family comes in front of the headstone pray with the joss sticks. I did see some families eat the food together there at the grave site, similar to having a picnic with their deceased relatives. It is said to bring good luck to eat the food that was offered to the deceased.

Position (Feng Shui) of the grave is really important for the decease so they can have a good view from where they are buried. Seriously, the view from the here is really beautiful. Too bad I didn't bring my proper camera..hehe

After we finish, we went to Teo Chew Restaurant to have our breakfast. And it's nice to gather around with my uncle, aunties and cousins since we rarely meet.

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