I don’t observe Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day but a coffee chat with one of my oldest friends, V, reminded me of the quirkiness of this Chinese festival that recently took place in early April.
Qing Ming falls on the 15th day after the Spring Equinox. On that day, many Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects and also to give the graves a good cleaning. When I was young, dad used to drive the family, complete with pails, brooms, brushes, detergent and gardening tools to remove stubborn weeds and wash a year’s worth of grime from Grandma’s and Grandpa’s graves at the Bidadari cemetery. These visits became less and less frequent with dad’s advancing age. Eventually, they petered out altogether when the cemetery land was reclaimed by the government and the graves all exhumed.
Now most Chinese pay their respects by visiting the niches in the neatly laid out blocks of the various columbariums throughout Singapore. Yes, these are the perils of living in a land-scarce country. Even the dead are relocated to HDB block-equivalents!
V paid her respects during Qing Ming by visiting her late grandparents’ niches. Being the caring eldest grandchild that she was, she went one further. Her grandpa never got to travel in an airplane in his lifetime, so she thought that a little springtime jaunt would be a nice gift to him.
V bought an airplane, complete with air tickets and itinerary, as well as a passport.
All these were purchased at a very reasonable $20. The next step was to make sure he got his gifts. These were offered before his niche before burning.
When V told me what she did during Qing Ming, I just knew I had to share this. It was bizarre, funny but also very, very sweet. Love shows itself in various forms, and I’m sure V’s grandpa would have been very touched by his grand daughter’s loving, filial actions.