Friday, April 06, 2007

Second Life

It's the annual Chinese Ching Ming Festival (aka Qingming Festival). It happens every 106 days after the winter solstice. Most people call this holiday 'grave-sweeping day' because people head to the cementary to clean graves.

There are many Ching Ming rituals which include pulling out weeds around the headstone, cleaning the stone and replacing wilted or dead flowers with fresh ones. People also burn incense and paper money. The paper money is for the deceased to use in the afterlife. You'll even see food arranged on headstones, it is an offering to the spirits.

Other rituals include family members pouring wine on the grave. 3 sets of chopsticks and 3 cups of wine are always placed on the headstone of an ancestor on Ching Ming. Legend has it that unhappy spirits wander the earth on Ching Ming Day. It's considered bad luck to do important business or have an operation on that day.

I went with my Dad to buy some paper offerings for my grandparents before heading to the cementary. I was amazed at the variety of paper-made goods you can get for your deceased loved ones. There were laptops with view-cam (so scary!), Rolex watches, hi-fi systems, SLR cameras, branded clothes, fashion accessories.... even 'canned food' and beer! You can even give them mahjong sets, cards and dices, complete with tokens. Wow, can open a casino leh!

Dad went to collect a couple of paper dolls. He had them made-to-order. They will be burnt and sent to my grandparents to serve them in the other world. They already had 3 pairs. They also had a double-storey house and a Mercedes car - courtesy of yours truly.

Dad was telling me to get a bigger house for them next year. He said their 'present house' will be too cramped when the others 'go down'. And it's cheaper to buy now as prices are raising every year. And they could rent out the old house. hehehe....

The shopowner enthusiatically offered to show me some models. There are so many to choose from, and sea-side bungalows too! Wah, they could also have a yacht in their own backyard. So luxurious! I think I could afford a luxurious life when I die.

I joked to the shopowner that I would like to have a 10-storey office building and he quickly sat down to make calculations and then gave me a quotation. I need to patent this because he will definitely offer it next year.

I was quietly laughing to myself as my Dad was in awe of all the offerings in the shop. He believes in a second life - the life after death. I told him to learn to use the computer now so he can msn us everyday. No need to appear in our dreams and scare the hell out of us. hahaha....

The shopowner's wife recommended me a great gift for my grandparents - sharks fin, birds' nest and abalone gift-pack!!!! muahahahaha...... my grandparents got no teeth!

Do you celebrate Ching Ming? What will you be offering to your ancestors on this day? Let us know!


  1. I'd be needing a Palace, for the 48 concubines, you see.. with lots of beds.. and trees..

  2. hahaha.... right, lb.
    Die oso want to enjoy huh!!

  3. Wouldn't it be more scary to talk to u in MSN? Imagine you MSN got dead people chatting with you.

    Still think dream is better. :P

  4. But MSN cannot see wor! Lagi best can ask for 4D leh!!! :)

  5. We are not as fortunate to have this tradition to honor those who have passed on. I do place flowers and angels on the site of burial and intend that in the spirit of love all is well with the person (s) who are now in the spiritual realm.

  6. oh, it's such a simple act in your part of the world.

    Chinese festivals are more elaborate. And we really respect and honour our ancestors.

    The younger generation is not like their elders any more, they tend to find it troublesome. heh heh.....

  7. I find this custom quite fascinating but feel that people may have made it too commercial. My friend was telling me that some of the elaborate offerings can go for a few hundred dollars.

  8. Oh hi Adam,
    Thanks for dropping in from UK. :)
    Another Malaysian blogger.

    A few hundred US$? Yes.

    I was quoted a high 4-figure Sing$ for my paper 'building'. ya, it was elaborate... hehe...

  9. I was unaware of this Festival. Thanks for the education. It sounds a fine tradition to me.

  10. I remember this day while in S'pore... the white sheets hanging up and illuminted by candles, or wazzit electric?

    After, we went to eat ice kachang and commiserate over whether my Christian friends in S'pore believed the entire tradition.

  11. It's usually just my parents who go "sweep grandparents grave". You all very elaborate!
    Usually, my Dad will just buy some Teochew kueh keuh eg soon kueh, png keuh, and vege beehoon for my grandparents.

    There open casino good leh, no need to pay entrance fees like on earth.

    Shark fins and bird nest bo gay can eat lah, just drink and swallow can liow mah...the AH-baloney bit tricky though.

    MSN with view cam means can see the face liow scary....wonder what the nickname going to be...

  12. Good day Captain Picard!
    Learn another tradition of the Chinese. Stay tune for more....... hehe...

  13. awwww... Dwayne,
    There are people who believe there's afterlife and people who don't. I choose to believe so that I would not be afraid of death.

    I look forward to meeting my grandparents and good friends who passed away. It would be fun playing mahjong with them :)

  14. tigerfish!
    ler si Teochew nang!!!!! ga di nang! pah si boh siang gan!

    My Dad lah! ok lah! He wants to make my grandparents happy. He happy, I oso happy lah! I think he oso wants to show off to the other relatives (dead or alive)that his children are filial and caring :)

    We also offer the Teochew snacks and my grandparents' favourite dishes. Then have picnic beside their graves after the prayers, hehehe..... The offering for us finally arh!

    ya... ya... remember arh! I operate casino 'down' there. Next time come and play play!

    hahaha... the delicacies make me 'peng' man!

    My own kin leh, how scary can they be? Some humans look worse than ghosts wor!!

    I think I oso would look good when I'm gone! Beautiful long-haired sexy melancholic ghost......... hahaha....

  15. i heard nowadays they even produce paper viagra !!

  16. Hi Doc chen!
    Really arh??!!!! Must get for my ah kong you know! hahahaha.....

  17. Does Singapore regulate the burning of the paper money and other paper items during Chinese festivals? Having spent time in Taiwan, I noticed that the burning of these mountains of paper items seemed to be a double environmental hazard (dead trees and air pollution). And, of course, Taiwan is a very loose and unregulated area -- so curious how Singapore handles these burnings of religious items.

  18. boyd r. jones,
    Now the authorities do regulate the burning of the paper money and other paper items during Chinese festivals. They provide bins for the burning. But for big items, some people still burn them in the open spaces. There are of course black sheep .

  19. It is alright. I accept that there are some fun that I don't mind missing. *winks*

  20. I have sensitive nose, and I tend to cough like mad when near smoke.

  21. oh PY,
    so better not have this 'fun' la! hehe...

  22. I saw the news from Msia newspaper The Star few days back. The article is available online too.

  23. Dr Chen,
    Wow, I'm dumbfounded!!!!

    hahaha.... my grandmother would appear before me if I really get my ah kong the blue pills!

    Thanks for the eye-opening article.

  24. I went to pay a respect to my dad last friday at Guang Ming Shan. Quite well organised despite thousands of people were there to offer their ancestors.
    But I dont quite like the paper offering part, when talking about environmental.

  25. You're right. I'm one of the culprits but I have excuse. I'm filial. :)

    It was swarming with people at the cemetary but it was a good sight because you can see that the tradition is still being observed by many. I see many young people paying their respects.

    I don't mind Jaymes not burning paper offerings for me but I would like him and his family to put one day aside for remembering his ancestors.

  26. I think the best gift for your grandparents will be paper dentures~! Like that they can have any 山珍海味 that they like in the netherworlds! ;)

  27. Hi zhenzhen!
    Thanks for dropping by.

    Oh ya hor! Why didn't I think of tat? must go get the dentures. hehehe.... Thanks.

  28. No Ching Ming at my house. At least the missus never discusses it. All Christian might be the reason I assume. But I never talked about this with her.

    Use MSN so you don't get scared. That is so funny. But dun you think that would scare you while you are awake?