Every year around this period of time, usually around 5th Apr, Chinese will prepare for Qing Ming Festival, which is also called tomb sweeping.
Qing Ming Festival is an opportunity for family members to remember and honour their ancestors at grave. Young and old family members will gather and pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, and/or libations to the ancestors.
My family did our tomb sweeping at Guang Ming Shan, a well known Monastery in Bishan, where my grandmother’s ashes was placed. We went there pretty early around 4am without realizing it opened only at 5am. Without wasting time, we went to Lim Chu Kang Cemetery first to sweep tomb for my father first.
We thought we were the early birds, but there were already families leaving. They came way before us to beat the traffic jam later. We spent some quiet times there, prayed and burned the joss sticks before burning the joss papers in the end.
After that, we went back to Guang Ming Shan. The crowd was formed and there was no place for parking. We had to park along the road side and traffic police was there to direct the traffic. People had to walk in, carrying the offerings. It was very systematic and well organized.
We placed our offerings on the table and proceed with the praying. I bought my newly wed wife up to level 5 to visit my Grandma. The urns were placed in a way where the nearer the urns were placed to the Buddha, the more expensive the place would be. It’s rather like real estate where you had to pay a higher price for better location. My grandma’s location cost us $8000. The most expensive location will cost $12000!
We went back to finish the ceremony. The last step was to take our offerings and burnt. They had a big fire place to burnt all our stuff. All we have to do was to placed our offerings on a table. The process was very systematic.
That was how it went for our Qing Ming 2011. We’ll do it again in 2012!