Custom

Nov. 4th, 2006 10:30 pm
istoo: (Hello how are you?)
[personal profile] istoo
Not sure how much is custom or cultural tradition, but I was asked about the rituals a (long) while ago. Anyway, it was a nice sunny day to go visit the cemetery, though we had some delay due to traffic.

I was told that there are two dates of the year for paying respect to the dead in Hong Kong - one roughly near Easter : Ching Ming Festival and one around Hallowe'en : Chung Yeung Festival. As I can only visit on a Saturday, so we went this day closest to October 30th.

First thing was to clean the area, cutting the longer grass, pulling weeds and tidying up. Two candles were lit, then the flames from them were used to light some joss sticks. The candles, joss sticks and paper items used later were bought together in a pack I believe, probably available in china town.
The candles were on sticks so that they could be inserted into the ground or container to hold them up. They were placed one on each side (in a pot), with the joss sticks placed in front / in between them, in three bunches.

Using flames from the candles, representation of paper money was burnt on the ground in front. A metal tray was used just to place the burning money on, and there was quite an amount of paper that had to be completely turned to ash and cinder.

While the 'money' and other paper things were burning (I don't know what they represented), food and drink were placed on the sides. A plate with some favourite things on the left, and on the right were three small cups of tea (favourite drink I suppose) and three cups of some alcohol. I don't know if the groups of three things meant anything, or it was because there are three of us.

The paper had to be burnt completely, so had to use a stick to turn them over to check for embers and light any paper still intact. We had brought a lighter rather than matches for our burning needs. It was interesting to see the patterns of the embers moving, like little red worm shapes as they burnt the paper.
Three small bows then waiting until the candles and joss sticks had all burnt down, before we finished up. The alcohol was poured slowly across the ashes on the ground, one by one, in a line from the left to right, followed by the tea in the same fashion.

Finally we cleaned up the things we brought with us, packed up and left.

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