For the Chinese, there is a time every year to remember the dead.
The Qing Ming Festival, when hordes of pious descendants throng the columbariums in Singapore with food and hell money to be burnt for the dead, is alien to me.
Schooled on English Bible stories, I am unfortunately more familiar with the idea of heaven and hell than the whys of traditional Chinese ancestral worship.
I blame it on a solidly English education.
It is a loss, for not understanding it doesn’t make it meaningless.
To my folks, at least, honouring their ancestors is still an important part of their lives. I imagine the ritual would die with their generation. I know no one my age who would do so of their own accord, or who would even know what to do.
This Qing Ming, they head to Pek San Theng – former cemetery turned columbarium in Bishan – and another columbarium at Sin Ming to pay their respects.
* My folks with the offerings
The girls follow. Lu is not happy!
For them, it was a rather unpleasant excursion of sorts: One which they would associate with swirling pungent clouds of joss stick smoke, humid heat exacerbated by the blanket of smoke from not only the joss sticks but giant furnaces which incinerate the thousands of paper offerings, and unpleasant things like no seats, no food and no drinks.
* Oh wait there is food! We eat up the food after its offered to the spirits. Its delicious.
* Saying hi to their great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather
* Great-great grandfather: The medical guy whose board is hanging on our wall. But wait! How come his name is different from the name on the board?
And Pek San Theng is quite a nice scenic spot.