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12,998 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here's a thread to discuss about cemeteries and columbariums. Yea.....I know it is a bit weird (sometimes taboo) to have such discussion but the fact that columbariums and cemetery are part and parcel of urban development can't be ignored. So I've copied the entire Qing Ming thread from Mamak to this section here and we would continue discussing anything and everything cemeteries and columbariums :D

First of all here's an intro to Qing Ming (Chinese equivalent of All Souls' Day). The earlier threads are all on Qing Ming so just read on hehehehe ;)

Here goes:

There has been a lot of misconception about Qing Ming as being religious. It isn't. It is a cultural festivity. Qing Ming bring families together far and wide, young and old together for this special day (similar to CNY eve reunion dinner). It is not to worship ancestors but to respect and remember them - one of the main pillars of Confusionism. ;)

12,998 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Thousands pay homage to departed loved ones


SEMENYIH: Over 10,000 people, carrying replicas of television sets, motorcycles and bungalows and also “hell notes,” thronged the Nirvana Memorial Park here to pay homage to their departed relatives.

The young and old arrived as early as 6am to mark Qing Ming (Chinese All Souls Day) yesterday.

Although the actual day is tomorrow, families usually visit the graves of their loved ones during a 10-day period before or after the date.

Most of them brought chicken, char siew (barbequed pork), roast pork, pau (steamed buns) and fruits as offerings.

Some families let off firecrackers after making the offerings as a sign of prosperity for their coming generations.

Families offering food and paper gifts to their departed relatives to mark 'Qing Ming' at the Nirvana Memorial Park in Semenyih on Sunday.

Great-grandfather Tan Hoi San, 76, who brought food and paper clothes for his late parents and two brothers, said it was an annual pilgrimage for his family and him.

“We spend a few hundred ringgit every year just to buy food and paper gifts for my dead parents and brothers.

“We do not mind it because they deserve some luxury, too,” said Tan.

Magazine writer Tham Siew Loong, 40, came with his parents and family members to pay respect to his late grandfather.

The eldest grandson of the family said this was the first time in 10 years that the extended family gathered to celebrate Qing Ming.

Tham said that according to Chinese custom, married daughters were usually not allowed to pay homage to their parents during Qing Ming.

“But my family wanted a change this year, so we brought our aunties along.

“It was like a picnic because my mother prepared fried rice, noodles and red bean soup for our departed grandfather,” he added.

General manager Tony Looi, 32, said his family only offered paper clothes and shoes to his departed grandmother as they did not believe in offering replicas of high-tech gadgets.

About 20 family members of four generations of the Looi family turned up to pay their respects to their late grandmother, who died at the age of 73 six years ago.

For Tan Yit Chorm, 43, celebrating Qing Ming was like an annual gathering for his family.

12,998 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hundreds visit graves of loved ones for Qing Ming

PENANG: Carrying their departed kin’s favourite food and items, the young and old made their way to the Mount Erskine columbarium and cemetery here to pay their respects to the dead.

They were seen clutching bags of folded paper ingots, tiffin carriers containing food, baskets of fruit, roasted suckling pigs and paper treasure chests.

Yesterday’s sunny morning proved an excellent time for people to make their annual Qing Ming pilgrimage.

Although the event falls on Tuesday, the Chinese community usually visits the graves of their loved ones during a 10-day period before or after the date.

At the columbarium, offerings were placed on tables – directly in front of niches holding the urns containing the ashes of their late relatives.

Smoke from burning joss sticks and candles filled the building as the people kneeled to pay homage to the dead.

Small items were placed inside the glass-panelled niches. Plastic flowers were found all around.

There were even a model motorcycle, plastic jewellery, a bottle of Florida Water cologne and tiny cookie jars placed before the niches.

FURNITURE OFFERING: Sisters-in-law Wong Yeok Lan (left), 43, and Lin Hew Sin, 54, holding a replica of their late mother-in-law’s favourite relaxing chair in front of the niche containing her ashes at the Mount Erskine columbarium in Penang Saturday.

Outside, there is a pit where people were seen burning paper paraphernalia for the dead.

Paper bungalows and hell money were offered.

At the graveyard, people were seen clearing weeds and scrubbing the tombstones clean.

Joss sticks in little urns were placed at the foot of the tomb.

In Johor Baru, the Chinese cemetery in Gelang Patah was among the sites which saw hundreds of people visiting the graves of family members yesterday.

Tombstones were cleaned and offerings made to the departed loved ones.

12,998 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Final resting place


Some Chinese elders refuse to talk about dying, much less visit grave sites. But those who are not superstitious would go to the extent of choosing and buying their burial plots and planning the design of their tombs. At the very least, they get to see how their final resting place would look like.

Some wealthy families spend a fortune – up to a few million ringgit – to build a grand tomb. They believe that burial plots with good feng shui are important as they affect the fortunes of their descendants. And choice plots are usually on higher ground.

Families with money spare no expense on the tombs as they feel it is their duty to appease and honour their ancestors. They see it as a gesture of filial piety to provide the best for their loved ones.

At 91, Datuk Sim Mow Yu seems to have accepted the fact that one does not live forever. Sim, a publisher, Chinese educationist and accomplished calligrapher, has even prepared a resting place for himself next to his late wife, at the Nirvana Memorial Park in Semenyih, Selangor.

The nine dragon wall forms the back wall of this grand tomb in Nilai Memorial Park.

The green granite tombstones look spanking new in their well-landscaped surroundings. But what is eye-catching is the beautiful calligraphy on the tombstones and walls flanking the grave site.

“The original writings are scanned onto the granite slabs and engraved by workmen. Datuk Sim, who was born in Fukien, China, wrote all the calligraphy on the tombstones, including the tombstone of his wife, Chan Guat Ai, who passed away last May,” says Isaac Chong, personal assistant to the group managing director of NV Multi Corporation Bhd, which manages Nirvana Memorial Park.

Work on the tombs was completed only early this year.

“Datuk Sim tells of his motto in life: perseverance, manners, righteousness, integrity, faithfulness, justice and hard work. He also holds steadfastly to the principle that life is a struggle and one of rendering service to others,” says Chong.

Ong Seng Huat

He adds that these days, it is quite common for the well-to-do Chinese to buy a plot of land and prepare their tombstones before their deaths. Their names would be engraved in red to indicate that they are still alive.

Another noteworthy tomb is that of Lim Fong Seng, former chairman of the Federation of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and former chairman of the Federation of Chinese Schools Association.

Rather than the usual upright tombstone, Lim’s head stone rests in a slanted position on some steps in front of his tomb and that of his late wife. A pair of white ceramic angels stand guard on top of the slanted head stone. A landscaped path surrounded by an immaculately kept garden, leads to Lim’s final resting place.

Some tombs have plants or flowering shrubs on them as the family members believe that these can help ensure that the family wealth is retained.

At the Nirvana Memorial Park, there are three graves which are surrounded by a shallow pool of water. A park worker explained that this is done for feng shui purposes. Rainwater collects around the grave before it is drained off.

“Some believe that storage of water is symbolic of storing wealth,” says the worker.

In Peace Garden, there are artistic head stones with contemporary designs. The tombs have no mounds typical of Chinese tombs, but are flat and turfed. Each plot has a border of shrubs to demarcate its boundary. The garden is beautifully landscaped with palm trees for added tranquillity.

This sang kee is erected to promote longevity and prosperity among the living.

At the Nilai Memorial Park in Negri Sembilan, there is an imposing million ringgit tomb with a rectangular back wall etched with nine dragons – the handiwork of craftsmen from China.

“It belongs to a respected Chinese entrepreneur who meticulously planned his tomb before his death. He even detailed the route that his hearse would pass and how the death rituals should be conducted. A few months after his tomb was ready, he passed away,” says Monica Chew, sales manager of the park.

In contrast to the sombre grey, white and blue colour themes of most graves, the tomb of a Chinese publisher in Nilai Memorial Park stands out with its splashes of colour on decorative walls.

As one ascends the staircase leading to the tomb, the boundary walls feature large pink lilies with green leaves. However, the major attraction is the main back wall illustrated with 24 stories of filial piety. Each story has an illustrated panel and all 24 panels are arranged to form a mural.

Another unique tomb belongs to that of a Tan Sri. It is marked by an upright marble wall with a hollowed-out cross. The cross is laid down on a grassy patch nearby. A white granite border gives the tomb its finishing touch. A stone’s throw away lies the tomb of the Tan Sri’s son.

Chew says: “The garden to this two-tiered tomb area is landscaped with a winding path. It is to remind the deceased’s descendants that he had gone a long way in life and experienced a lot of ups and downs.”

At both memorial parks, there are a few empty “tombs” which have been erected for feng shui purposes.

Known traditionally as sang kee (meaning “base of living”) these “tombs” are built to enhance one’s luck or promote good health and longevity, says Ong Seng Huat, chief executive director of Xiao En Cultural Endowment, a charity organisation set up by the Xiao En Group which operates Nilai Memorial Park.

One such “tomb” resembles the shell of a tortoise. Ong says: “Only the hair, nails or sample of blood of a living person are buried in this plot.”

Another sang kee has a tombstone with the Chinese character sau (meaning longevity) written on it, evidently as a wish for long life.

Yet another tortoise-shaped tomb, Ong says, is regarded as an “unlucky” tomb as it is sealed (wholly cemented). Traditionally, the Chinese do not seal the tomb to allow grass to grow on the mound of earth that marks the grave site.

Tombs of contemporary designs at Nirvana Memorial Park. This area is planted with palm trees for shade. There are no mounds typical of Chinese graveyards but flat turfed burial plots.

A housewife in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, who declined to be named says: “My father’s tomb is sealed and the family cannot visit his grave. This is to avoid bad luck. We can only worship his ancestral tablet at home. However, we can engage workers to make offerings and burn incense during Qing Ming.”

In her father’s case, the day, month and year of his birth were all inauspicious, so he was deemed unlucky and hence the taboo on visiting his grave.

Keng Choo, planning and design director of Nilai Memorial Park, says that once tombs are completed, renovation works are not encouraged.

“After the burial of their family member, if the descendants are safe and happy, the Chinese do not want to disturb the tombs (with unnecessary renovation),” he says.

“However, if the descendants have health problems and suffer bad luck after burying their elders, they would seek the help of a geomancer. Work may then be carried out, including relocating the tomb to a site with good feng shui.”

A tastefully designed grave in Nirvana Memorial Park in Semenyih.

Chew of Nilai Memorial Park tells of a filial son who occasionally visits his father’s grave and has breakfast at a sheltered pavilion equipped with a granite table and seats. Who knows, the young man could be pouring out his worldly problems to his father or just spending a quiet time of reflection.

“Indeed, these days a memorial park is no longer a dreaded place to visit for the living. It is beautifully landscaped and relatives may visit the graves whenever they like,” adds Chew.

6,755 Posts
wei... sze you chinese celup I guess..last time you want to bring me for Qing Ming to take pics but ALL of my other chinese friends say I might either get or bring bad luck there when I told them about it! :D

12,998 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
baqthier said:
wei... sze you chinese celup I guess..last time you want to bring me for Qing Ming to take pics but ALL of my other chinese friends say I might either get or bring bad luck there when I told them about it! :D

Aiyoh.....some people aren't even sure of their traditions ;)

People just associate graves and stuffs like that with bad luck and things like that. Those are all just myth lah :D Cause Qing Ming is a celebration of life instead of death. No one is supposed to cry and stuffs like that. People lit firecrackers even :D People are supposed to be happy.

There is even a tradition that married daughters are not allowed to visit the graves but of course nothing happened that now so many doesn't care anymore. (see the article I posted in post #2). My aunties followed us for Qing Ming a few years back and it is still allrite mah. It is now a norm for daughters to visit the graves of their ancestors ;)

The only thing that is taboo is the following 100 days after a close kin had died.......a person should not go to another person's house unless the owner of the house dun mind. But that is not Qing Ming.....that is when someone died lah ;)

Bringing friends along during Qing Ming won't harm a bit lah.......there isn't even such superstition or tradition to begin with. ;) Anyway if you still dun want to go during Qing Ming...there is always the normal days to go mah hehehe :lol:

But Qing Ming is surely an eye-opener to those whom had not seen the celebration first hand ;)

Anyway on a side note: Just asked one of my aunt whom are ultra-superstitious and she said that it is allrite for friends to follow the Qing ming festivities. Even my mom whom are very traditionalist insist Seed to come a long last year :)

12,998 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
hypermount said:
Also known as Cheng Beng among Hokkiens..

LOL what was it about Seed?

hahaha......last year he came visiting and stayed at my place. So happened that my mom scheduled Qingming visit on that particular I had no choice but bring him along as there isn't anyone at home. Furthermore he had no clue what qing ming is! :eek: (he's from Penang and study in a Chinese-medium school somemore!) :D

He had this friendly relationship with the mosquitoes at the cemetery :lol:

997 Posts
Very informational articles. It’s a bit like "All Souls Day" for the Christians.

I’ve been told that paper paraphernalia is burnt as offerings because the soul of the newly departed is believed to enter hell first...Doing so provides the soul the comfort and luxury he/ she had in this world. Is that true or is there another significance to it?
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