This month is the Qing Ming festival, translated as ‘Clear and Bright’ and also known as ‘All Souls Day’ or ‘Tomb Sweeping Day’. It is the time when Chinese families go to cemeteries to clean the graves of their dear ones. Families come together from far and wide to visit their home-town for this purpose and give homage to the departed souls.
The one very interesting aspect of this ‘festival’ (reeks of tourism) or tradition (real deal) is that apart from burning joss sticks, incense paper and lighting candles, families also burn paper replicas of anything they believe their ancestors might want. For example, perhaps my grandmother appeared in my dream and said she would like to have an Ipad. Then I will wake up and feel very happy that my grandmom is in step with time, and I’ll go buy a paper-replica of the latest Ipad and burn it as an offering to her. Her wish fulfilled.
Ok jokes apart (although I wasn’t joking about the Ipad story …read here on shortage of the paper replicas during Qing Ming)…I think the original tradition must have been quite beautiful and meaningful. For families to come together and share old memories of those who have moved on. Of what we could learn from the way our ancestors lived their lives, of their joys and struggles and what they left behind. Perhaps it would also encourage everyone to look at the bigger picture of our life and the meaning we attach to it.
Nevertheless, if somebody’s deceased soul is wanting an Ipad, I sure hope the soul was part of a Chinese family in one of its many lives. Happy Qing Ming to all.