Festival – Malaysia
The Qingming festival (???) is a time when my family visits the grave sites of my ancestors. During this time the family members tend to the gravesite, by cutting the grass around it and cleaning the headstone. We pray to our ancestors and offer food such as tea as well as Joss paper. Joss Paper, also known as ghost money, are sheets of paper made from bamboo or rice which are burned during ancestor worship ceremonies.
This Chinese tradition is very personal to Fung. He explains that it is a time where he can connect with his ancestors spiritually and although he doesnt believe in an afterlife, he feels it cannot be refuted since its existence cannot be scientifically disproven. One connected tradition he feels is important is the burning of accessories the deceased can utilize in the afterlife. He says that nowadays people burn just about anything, one day I saw a person burn a mobile phone, which was quite strange, but it is good to know that people still follow the tradition even in modern times. Upon further investigation I found certain accounts of people that make Joss figures of commodities such as cars, MP3 players and even condoms.
Fung often burns traditional Joss paper during the worship, It is an ancient practice and I feel it is important to preserve it. Fung mentioned that the Qingming festival, which is usually on 4th or 5th of April, also carries other customs, Farmers sometime carry willow branches to ward off evil spirits on the day.
The Qingming festival is more commonly known as Tomb Sweeping Day or Clear Brightness Festival. While the practice is mainly found in China it is also followed in other Asian countries such as Malaysia, where Fung lived. However, I have never come across it in Sri Lanka, even among my Chinese friends. Nonetheless, I feel that it is a very spiritual tradition, one that anyone could appreciate, regardless of creed. It gives one a chance to connect with ancestors and to show respect to the deceased, a value that people should cherish.