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Friday, March 31, 2006

Qing Ming - Chinese All Souls Day

I have never been very keen on visiting graves or paying respect to my late grandparents during Qing Ming, not because I'm unfilial, but more due to the reasons of tear jerking jossticks burning at every corner of the temple. Been there, done it before, and unless somebody points a gun to my head, I really would never think of going to those temples again. I managed to escape the ordeal for the past 5 years or so, mainly because my mom prefers to go during the weekdays, when the temple is less crowded, and FORTUNATELY for me, I have to work during weekdays.

This year I've got no excuse of skipping. My sisters are all away, either abroad or at the NS camp, my brother needs to work, while I am at home just "shaking legs". Can't bear to see my mom go through all of it alone, so I tagged along. Plus, it gives me something to blog about.

As usual, all the family members will bring the favourite food of the deceased, which could range from dim sum to durians. Fruits are very common. Some will include as well as favourite cigarette brands of the deceased, e.g. my granddad used to smoke Camel. Here is approximately how the whole process provided the instructions, and I followed:
  1. Serve all the food on the table
  2. Serve the chinese tea with the mini cups
  3. Light the yuin bou lap juk (red joss candles)
  4. Light the giant joss sticks
  5. Light the rest of the joss sticks and then invite my granddad from where his ashes were kept to where the food was served
  6. Stick a joss stick on every single food item on the table so that my granddad will know what to eat.
  7. Proceed to the burning area to burn all the items meant for my granddad (the box was sealed with his name), containing hell money, clothing, shoes, etc.

And guess what, not too long after the family members leave, the monks at the temples will help clear out the tables for the next family to use. So where does all the food go? Whatever that could be salvaged would be kept by the monks to be consumed later. The rest? Down the garbage bin.

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