Sunday, 5 April 2009

Like Sebastian said, today's Qing Ming, the Chinese All Souls' Day.

When I was a young kid, I was fascinated by the whole thing. It took some time for me to understand that it's the day where souls should return from wherever they're supposed to be.

And while I understand why people want to have this festival to remember their dearly departed relatives and ancestors, I don't see the the point of the belief of bringing food and burning items.

Remembering your relatives is a good thing, but Qing Ming isn't all about that.

People bring food to the tombs to allow the spirits to 'feast' on it, and they burn items so the spirits of their relatives can receive it. Sometimes, they even set off firecrackers to alert their departed relatives. I don't see how can the food be eaten. If you leave it there nothing would happen. If you return and find that the food's missing, would you think the spirits ate it? No. You would immediately understand that the graveyard workers took it away, and probably ate it themselves.

And burning things! Isn't the world polluted enough already? I remember once I had to help lay down the 'money' on the graveyard. I was probably in primary school or lower secondary then, but what I saw really shocked me. The writing on the notes was 'HELL BANK NOTE'. Why in the world would you want your relative to receive a bank note for HELL? Don't you wish they're in HEAVEN? And burning things like paper clothes! The most amusing thing I've heard is that my aunts said you have to write the name of the person you're burning it for, so that they can receive it. My mum said that my grandmother's illiterate so how can she know it's hers?

My paternal grandmother passed away unexpectedly few years back. I'm sure that there would be so many things she would want to say. So why can't we burn a one day pass? Let her come back for 24 hours. Everyone seems content with the 'fact' that when you burn those items, your relatives will receive them.

I went back for Qing Ming last week. My grandfather told me not to forget to mention that I got good results in my exam. But actually I just wished her all the best wherever she is, and that she's happy, then placed the joss sticks. Another aunt told her to "eat more". I really don't see the whole point of it. Nor do I see the point of praying to long dead ancestors whom I've never met, and rarely heard about.

Yes, I'm a bad descendant. But why should I pray to someone I don't know? Or burn beautiful paper clothes and hell notes to a departed relative?
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