Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Cheng Ming - Picnic with a difference

Chinese has an interested day in the calendar that they called Cheng Ming or Cheng Beng. Some called it the grave-sweeping or tomb-sweeping day. This is the day the Chinese will “Han San” or walk the mountain. When I was young I do not really goes to my ancestor grave to do such activities. My dad is the one that is doing it every year together with his brother and sister. I do hear of things that he, his brother and sister does.

Every one of them will contribute a bit of money to buy some food. It consists of boiled chicken, roast pork (Siu Yok), barbecue pork (Char Siew), fruits and desserts like cake or Kuih. My ancestor grave is still located in the surrounding area of KL and Selangor. Normally to avoid the crowd, my dad will wake up early, together with my uncles, aunties, some nephews and niece will hike for around half an hour carrying foods and some hardware like a small shovel and knife. This is used to cut the grass which has grown since their last visit. After cutting, cleaning and sweeping the grave off grass and dust, they will actually offer the food and some “hell money” or other stuff that is similar to our world like house or cars but it’s a smaller version and it’s made of paper.

After a while, (I am not sure how long, there should be a time limit if not they might not have eaten yet) the food that was offered will then be eaten. My Dad and the gang will just use the edge and the surrounding block of cements that is around the grave as “stools” to rest and enjoy the food. It’s like a picnic. There are normally some left over of “Siu York” or “Char Siew” that my dad will bring back. We will then cook it as a dish for our dinner with some soya sauces and vegetables.

I am not sure how this Han San tradition started but I guess it could have started with an objective in mind. That is to use it as a reason to gather all the family members from various corner and places around Malaysia, just like the reunion dinner during CNY eve which I have posted in my previous posting. Or is it "they" ideas to ensure that the grave will at least looks tidy and neat for a month or 2 before the grass with the help of the sunlight and rain covers its “occupant” again.

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