Two parts – First part in BM on what is Ching Ming and the second part, my annual rant on Ching Ming in English.

PART ONE

Heh, mari saya cerita pasal perayaan Ching Ming. Ching Ming maksudnya Jernih dan Terang. Hari Ching Ming biasanya jatuh pada bulan April, haribulan 4. Kebanyakkan perayaan Cina mengikut kalendar bulan Cina tetapi Ching Ming mengikut kalendar matahari (hahaha, gregorian calendar?).

Colourful paper flags on a Chinese grave
(kubur dibersihkan dan dihiasi dengan kertas-kertas berwarna-warni melambangkan kesetiaan anak-anak, cucu-cicit kepada simati)

Perayaan Ching Ming boleh diamalkan sepuluh hari sebelum April 4 dan sepuluh hari selepas April 4. Ini bermakna kaum Cina ada dua puluh hari untuk menunaikan tanggungjawab mereka. Tanggung jawab apa? Tanggung jawab memberi kerhormatan dan peringatan kepada nenek-moyang, ibu-bapa dan ahli-ahli tersayang yang telah meninggal dunia.

Satu perkara yang mengelirukan kaum-kaum lain adalah kepelikan (weird?) melihat rumah-rumah kertas, kereta kertas, barang-barang kertas dan juga wang-wang kertas yang biasanya dibakar. Sebelum kita melabelkan ini sebagai kepercayaan syirik (believe in the ‘other world), mungkin ada baiknya kita memahami rasional setengah kaum Cina ini.

chinese grave
(minuman dan makanan kegemaran simati dibawa dan disembahkan)

Tidak semua kaum Cina mengamalkan kepercayaan sebegini. Kaum Cina yang beragama Kristian (Katolik) biasanya mempunyai hari All Souls Day (hari roh?) yang jatuh pada 2hb November di mana mereka juga pergi ke kubur untuk membersihkannya dan memberi peringatan. Jadi kaum Cina yang beragama Kristian mungkin juga pergi ke kubur ibu-bapa/moyang mereka yang bukan beragama Kristian dan memberi hormat dengan membawa sejambak bunga.

god of the earth
(orang tua ini adalah dipercayakan menjaga ‘pintu masuk’ ke dunia, jadi wajar meminta kebenarannya untuk memberi ‘pas keluar’ kepada si mati untuk keluar dan menghayati makanan yang disembah)

Kaum Cina yang bergama Buddha juga tidak mengamalkan kepercayaan membakar rumah kertas, wang kertas dan menyembah makanan dan kueh-mueh.

Kaum Cina beragama Kristian percaya roh-roh mereka yang telah meninggal dunia telah di tempatkan di syurga atau neraka. Kaum Buddah pulak percaya roh-roh itu telah di….(eheh, how to say rebirth ah?).

food hamper for the dead
(macam-macam ada….ini adalah ‘hamper’ yang mengandungi ‘makanan’. Sebenarnya, ia cuma dibuat dari kertas)

Tetapi kaum Cina yang beragama campuran Taoist dan Buddha, mempunyai kepercayaan bahawa hidup atau mati, mereka terus bertanggungjawab menjaga makan-minum ahli keluarga yang telah mati. Ini adalah sebagai tanda sayang kepada yang telah mati dan bukannya kepercayaan hantu.

Tidak dinafikan bahawa memang ada sesetengah pihak yang menyembah hantu dan roh-roh dengan niat mendapat kekayaan. Tetapi majoriti kaum Cina yang menyembah kubur ini adalah dengan niat murni untuk terus mengingati ahli keluarga yang telah mati.

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Pendekata, tujuan utama Ching Ming adalah untuk ahli keluarga semua berkumpul dan mengeratkan tali persaudaraan mereka sambil mengingati nenek atau datuk mereka.

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Jadi, saya harap semua orang kini faham tujuan sebenar sesetengah kaum Cina menyembah kubur.

PART TWO

Bwahahaha…terror leh? Anyway, Ching Ming is on 4th April and people start to honour their deceased relatives already. Me? I stop being so gungho about it nowadays because once your own son died, the rest seems less important. If I believe my son is with Christ in Heaven, I believe my parents and parents-in-law are in Heaven too. So, sorry lah, I sleep lah. No waking up at 5am to cook dishes and rice and bring roasted pig to graves for me.

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(you will never go thirsty in the underworld)

I have this joke with my husband. Don’t read if you are easily offended with religious talk. He is the blur sotong who cannot seems to remember how many kuehs and how many fruits to buy. Before my son died, I used to handle and organize the whole nine yards of Ching Ming including cooking all the dishes, prepare the tea and etc etc for my parents-in-law. I am an expert, btw, when it comes to praying the Chinese way.

The duty now falls on him. I got four sisters-in-law who are terribly latah (panicky) with all the do’s and don’ts but they are daughters. Daughters don’t have much ‘power’ when this thing is concerned. Kehkehkeh, in fact, my mother-in-law ‘ordered’ me that I must carry on the task of praying the great-grandparents, grand-parents and bachelor uncle graves. *slaps forehead, that are four graves in four corners of the island, wokay?”

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(phua chu kang that we hired to clear the jungle that surrounds my atm’s great-grandparents grave)

So, hubby will asked, “Eh, how many plates of kueh (local cakes) must I buy already?”

Then, jokingly I will tell him, in between giggles, “Sorry, hor, it is against my principles to tell you that you need five pieces of kueh and five fruits for your grandpa’s grave and three each for the thor tay kong (the pak guard who manned the underworld). Because hor, my Yehsou said Heaven is like Club Med with overflowing buffet. Their kuehs better than our kueh koci lah.”

We will be doing this silly talk, repeated over again and again. He will ask, “Aiyar, tomorrow I wonder if I can get ‘seng lay’ the duck/chicken from the market…”

And I will reply, “Sorry hor, it is against my principles to tell you that the market start selling as early as 6 am…because my Yehsou says….”

Then, it will be something like, he said, “Aiyah, I forgot to buy the teacups…”

And my reply, “Sorry hor, it is against my principles to tell you…”

Anyway, they are having the Ching Ming on school days to accomodate the schedules of my atm 8 siblings. So my children and I won’t be joining. I told my hubby, “Let’s hold it in the afternoon. The main point is to get your sons to participate so that they will carry on this tradition next time. By going at 6 am in the morning, and to suit your siblings, it defeats the purpose because the next generation won’t be able to participate.” You say correct or not? Hoi! #2 son? How about we meng-Kristian kan the whole thingie next time? Bring flowers, say prayers, clear the graves, put papers, minus the fuss of how many kuehs, how many fruits? We do it afternoon so that no need to wake at 5 am and trudge uphill on wet grass and feed hungry mosquitoes breakfast. *evil grins*

chinese grave offerings
(picnic for the dead)

Ultimately – Remembering our deceased loved ones is good and compulsory.

But being too engrossed with the rituals can water down the whole purpose. I dislike hearing, “Ah Kong, we pray you, you bless us with prosperity.” Eh, leave the old man alone lah. Die liao, somemore must still jaga your prosperity meh? And do you know that some Chinese dialect group don’t even allow the daughters to go to the graves? Also got wife quarrel with the sisters-in-law because the wife brought pears to offer. Pear = peh = scrape all the prosperity to one side. LOL.

Anyway, Happy Ching Ming.