The Chinese version of All Souls day- Ching Ming (CM) 清明节- (translated to mean Clear & Bright) normally falls on 4-5th April. Although CM involves going to the cemetery (which might house a few thousands departed bodies ) rather than being a somber and scary occasion, CM can be a festive occasion, where family members get a chance to get together ( most would balik kampong) , and make some offerings to the dearly departed.
I have fond memories of CM, one of it is the link to food ( yeah, my greediness for food started at a young age) , coming from a kampong, CM used to be the few occasion that I get to eat char siu pau -which is a luxury item for the family back then.
The main Chinese burial ground in Kelantan is at Fu Long Mountain 褔龍 山 . Mum used to have to broil chicken, cook some vegetables, make arrangement to get some roast pork, cook rice, steam the buns early in the morning before we board a bus to KB to meet up with my uncle and his family, Uncle would charter the neighbour’s car for the trip, and on the way, we would pick up Great uncle 二叔公(and his broil chicken).
But we have simplified things now and decided that the ancestors might prefer a healthier diet of fruits and steam buns -minus pork and chicken, anyway, the logic is that, with all the Hell’s Notes that they will be receiving, they could go to any fancy restaurant and eat what they want lah.
At the tomb, we will clear the semak-samun , sweep leaves that might have gathered, retouched the inscriptions on the headstones with red paint , after which, incense and candles will be lit, Chinese tea and wines will be poured into tiny cups, steamed buns, fruits put into plates and placed before the headstone.
There is a caretaker of each tomb, something like a PA ? I always imagine him as a very efficient butler, someone like Jeeves.
Passport, flight tickets, checkbooks and of course who can leave home without a Veesa credit card ( hmm..touch and go also got one..canggih one )
Clothes and fancy Doir shoes for Granny
Also shampoo ( looks like Rejoice?) , cologne, lipstick, Hazeline snow, fragrant soap
Oatcrackers, condense milk, Miloo, thermos and mug
Carlsberg, Guinness, and Tiger for Dad, fancy shoes in case he wants to go partying and slippers for home use
The offerings are burnt and ‘received’ by those at the other end..
Apart from burning the offerings, some are arranged on the tomb – roof tiles for the ‘house’ and the coloured papers are cloth for making new clothes.
One of the tomb near my Grandad’s ‘house’ that had deteriorated …and probably forgotten ?
We usually go around the neighbouring tombs and offer incense as a sign of respect and also so that they will be on good terms with our departed family members
I learn this Chinese poetry about CM in primary school
清明时节雨纷纷，A light drizzle falls during CM festival
路上行人欲断魂。Travellers on the road are heartbroken
借问酒家何处有？Pardon me, where can a tavern be found ?
牧童遥指杏花村。The Shepard boy points to XinHua village in the distance
Alas, one couldn’t help but feel a bit sad that, the passing years also means that there are more graves to visit…more loved ones to be missed ….