Yesterday was Cheng Beng or also known as all Souls day. It is a day in the Chinese Lunar calendar where the Chinese remember their dearly departed..it is ancestral worship. On this day families will take time off to clear the graves of their ancestors, tidy the graves by removing all the weeds and giving it a spruce. Joss paper are then place on the grave and offering of food and drinks are made to the deceased.
The Chinese, being a practical race, take a week before and a week after the actual date to perform the rites.
I remember when I was young, we used to take this day as an adventure. Before embarking on the journey, which we considered as a picnic, my parents and the elders would prepare all sorts of food as offerings. There were (and still are) chicken, duck, roast meats, fruits, noodles, baos (dumplings), cakes and kuehs (local cakes), tea, and even wine. There were always eggs around. Hard boiled egg. Offerings of ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ were made in the form of gold and silver joss paper. Sometimes ‘clothes’ and other personal effects would be offered and burned. After the prayers, we would have a little picnic, eating the food. We would first eat the hard-boiled eggs dipped in soy sauce and then followed by the other food.
It was also an occassion where we got to meet our uncle ( only have I paternal uncle) and our cousins. So it was like a family reunion.
Some Chinese believe in offering ‘material goods’ to their dearly departed. While in Malaysia recently, I came across a shop selling prayer paraphernalia. There were offerings of various interesting articles. These include mobile phones, hand bags, clothes, shoes, watches and even wheel chairs.
All these offerings are then burned, and the idea is that it will ascend and reach their dearly departed where ever are.
Here are some of the photos:
I was sent this photo. It is for a wealthy person who recently departed.
So even in the afterworld, one needs the comforts of life.
Please note that this is a tradition, sort of culture and can be traced back to a mixture of Confucianism and Buddhism. Nowadays, most Buddhist temples advice their devotees not to burn offerings to the departed as it is not really in the Buddhist scriptures.
Many people now practice cremation and offerings are also carried in columbaria. The offerings are similar and more sedate, and the burning of paper offerings are not normally allowed.
I hope you find this article interesting. I will continue with my travel after this blog.
Until the next post, please like and share so that I stay motivated!! Thank you and comments are most welcome.
Note: the views expressed here are all entirely my own.