Qing Ming aka Tomb Sweeping Day

Due to the modern society, many important festivals are often neglected. Qing Ming Festival aka Tomb Sweeping Day is an interesting and meaningful festival. It
is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around 5 April of the Gregorian calendar (see Chinese calendar). 
This year, it falls on 4th April 2013. You may conduct the activity 10 days from, and after 4th April 2013.

Qing Ming Festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, joss, incense paper, and/or libations to the ancestors. Apart from that, honoring the dead, is one of many ways which Confucians demonstrate “Filial Piety”! Me and my family went for Qing Ming last Sunday (31.3.13).

This is what my Tiow families prepared (I hereby referring to my paternal uncles and aunts). That's okaasan's (mama Shirley) hand

When paying respect to the ancestor, normally each person will holds two joss sticks, elders in the family (base on the seniority) to offer prayers first. The last will usually be the most junior & youngest in the family.  

The world has been evolving, you see ipad, iphone everywhere, on everyone.
So do the underworld or heaven. You must really take your hats down towards these creative people who came out with the idea of making paper iphone and stuffs. People buy it! (including my relatives). Now even the souls have better life, live in bungalows, drives huge cars, with 3-5 maids, have all sorts of electronic gadgets such as 50" LED TV, Xbox, iphone, ipad, imac... countless!

EVEN LV?????!!! This is no joke man. lol

Bags and bags of incense papers (the so called money that the souls can use) that's gonna be burned into ash later on.

Okay, this yellow paper is actually a seal or a receipt. Recipient's name, sender's name, time and date have to be written on it and then seal it on the item that you gonna offer to the ancestors. Its like tagging luggage so that other "souls" will not taken your package wrongly. They have quite a system in the other world too isn't it? ^_^

Honestly, I feel like crying the whole time. The smoke is just so irritating. I can hardly open my eyes~ so this is me hiding beside a mountain of offerings hoping that it can separate me and the smokes. No need to say, it doesn't work. >_<

Remember the first photo in this post? You see lots of foods on the table, those food are offerings to the ancestor to have a feast. Before burning the incense papers, we have to make sure our ancestors had their tummy filled. How do we know? Chinese we uses "Sheng Bei".

"Sheng Bei" is actually wooden block used at temples to help determine a person's fortune. Worshipers ask the temple deity a question, then toss the "sheng bei". The response is a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer determined by the orientation of the blocks. Each block has a round and a flat side.. A positive answer is indicated when one flat side and one round side are shown. A negative answer is indicated by two round sides. When two flat sides are tossed, this means the question is unclear and the devotee should rephrase it and toss the "sheng bei" again.

But no normal human carries "Sheng Bei" everywhere so in the modern days of now, its replaced by 2 coins. So here's how it works... Get your knees down, shake the 2 coins inside your palm, at the mean time ask silently whether the ancestors are satisfied with the feast. Drop the coins on the floor, if its a head and flower means yes, if both heads or flowers means no, they are not done with the food yet, please wait. Interesting isn't it?

After receiving a "yes" from "Sheng Bei", you may now start "sending" aka burning your offerings. Some people will prepare a white chalk and draw a circle and place the incense paper into the circles to represent that the ‘money’ belongs to your ancestors. But the place where my ancestors are doesn't allow ground burning, we must burn the offerings within authorized places, like what's shown in the photo.

After paying respects to my great grandparents, grandpa, and uncles, we headed over to my dad's place. They were located at different sides. The earlier were shifted to this place (new building with aircon!!) from home town  (Negeri Sembilan) 2 years back, whereas my hero papa is located at the old wing.

The flowers for my Hero papa~

Fruits for hero papa~

Can guess which is my hero papa? hehe...

After my bro got a "Sheng Bei", it is now the burning time which okaasan insisted on it no matter how I try to persuade her not to. So no choice we have to follow what she wants, if not it will become a big fuss. Look at that hill! If it is really money... the ancestors must be mighty rich~ (p/s: its a random photo taken by me while waiting for our turn to burn the offerings.)

I support and do encourage more of these tradition to be pass down to the younger generation, and I am not trying to be sarcastic or to offend anyone (so please don't judge me), but I honestly don't see the necessary to burn all these things (my personal 2 cents of view, kindly ignore it if you disagree).

To me, Qing Ming is a Chinese tradition (there is nothing wrong to keep the tradition), and it is important to let the younger generation to always keep in mind of their roots. But, I seriously think that, it is more than enough to just offer some fruits, flowers and maybe joss sticks.

Buying tons of those stuffs doesn't make you extra filial, but burning those things will add on burden to the mother earth which in the end, harm our own. People may buy heaps of them to offer the ancestors, but so what, if he or she is not sincere in paying respect but just doing for the sake of doing? Vice verse, if he or she goes with empty hands, but he/ she means it, really respect and is really sincere, he/ she is 10,000 times better. Don't you think so? (I am just sharing, don't attack please). So, I am just going to say it once again..
Okay, enough with the slightly sensitive topic here before the discussion goes wild and being judge. Ending this post here with a photo of me in okaasan's sunglasses given by my hero papa before he passed away (he left us 20 years ago)  Ciao~!

~Live to Dream ♥ Dream to Live~

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