Chinese communities worship ancestors on Tomb Sweeping Day


Hong Kong (AFP) – Chinese communities across East and Southeast Asia flocked to cemeteries on Thursday to honour their ancestors during the annual “Tomb Sweeping Day”.

Also known as the Qingming or Ching Ming festival, the public holiday is a traditional day of remembrance for the dead, where it is customary for Chinese to sweep off the grave stones and air out the ash boxes of their loved ones.

Families from all over the continent were pictured on Thursday bringing fresh flowers and oblations to pay tribute to their ancestors.

The festival fell on a warm spring day in Hong Kong, where people donned hats and held up umbrellas as they scaled hillside cemeteries, with some bringing along bright red paint to top up the markings on grave stones, giving them a brand-new look.

Others commemorated their ancestors by laying out food at their tombs and burning paper replicas of daily necessities such as money, clothes and cars.

People believe the tradition of burning paper replicas — which dates back thousands of years — can offer their ancestors goods to use in the afterlife.

Dozens of activists in the semi-autonomous city marched to China’s liaison office as they honoured human rights activists — including the late Chinese democracy advocate and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo — and called for the release of political prisoners in the mainland.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, a woman paid tribute to her deceased husband by pouring a can of beer down next to his gravestone, before taking a sip herself.

In Kuala Lumpur, Chinese families lit joss sticks and prayed for their ancestors at cemeteries.

In Singapore, where tombs are orderly and neatly built, people were seen visiting cemeteries and remembering their loved ones without much ado