Ching Ming is one of the most important festivals for Chinese people all over the world. The festival is held on the day of the Third Moon 105 days after the Winter Solstice. It is also known as the Grave-Sweeping or Spring Remembrance Day.
Jessie and her family during Ching Ming
Ching Ming literally means “clear and bright” and is the time of the year when Chinese families visit the graves of their ancestors to clean the graveside and pay their respects.
It’s common for families to make offerings of rice, fruit and wine to ensure their loved ones have enough food and drink in the afterlife. Some families burn incense and paper money by the gravesides, believing that the smoke rises to the afterworld and can be used by their ancestors.
Chinese people all over the world care much for their dead relatives. In many Chinese houses you will find little altars sometimes with pictures of the dead relatives. The dead are worshipped and asked for certain favors.
Although I have spend quite a substantial time in Yangshuo, I never witnessed myself the Ching Ming here. The photos on this page are made by our local tour operator and guide Jessie Lu who also gave me inside in the practice of the people of her village.
Since the dead relatives are supposed to help the living with all kinds of things, a grave must be beautiful too. Ancestor worshipping is an important part of Chinese culture all over the world.
The Chinese spend a lot of money on preparation for their death. It is obvious not everybody is able to spend thousands of dollars (or Euros if you want) on graves. Getting a luxury grave is no longer within the budget of many Chinese in Malaysia (and in many other parts of the world).
Food prepared for the spirits of the forefathers
Not only the family has to organize the grave in advance, also all kinds of other preparations, prayers and offerings has to be completed before the grave is ready for burial.
Burning the money for the forefathers in the afterlife
It does happen, actually quite often, somebody dies and get a temporary grave. This grave is only in use for the time the real tomb is ready. With a lot of ceremony and offerings, the person then is moved with a full ceremony to his/her last resting place.
Firecrackers on the graves
As I said, Ching Ming is still one of the most important festivals for the Chinese people world wide. Jessie explains how it works: As Jessie told me: “We first clean the grass on he graves, then use the incense smell let the spirit come out from the grave for food we have prepared”.
The prepared food is offered with prayers and then the fake money is burned. This is to make sure the ancestors have money available in the afterlife.
At the end of the ceremony, firecrackers will set off over the grave to send the forefathers home.