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Sunday, April 4, 2010


This is the Chinese 清明节 month or Tomb Sweeping Festival where the Chinese honors their ancestors by 'sweeping' or cleaning the tomb. It is not as well known as the other ancestors remembrance 7th month or more infamously known as the Hungry Ghost month.Back to the Tomb Sweeping Festival.

Here in Singapore, there are only a few pockets of tombs left so the practice of sweeping tomb is more or less dying out. Traditionally though, the descendants will descend on the tomb 3 weeks before the actual day to clean it up before following it up with a 'feast' for the deceased.So if there is no tomb, then sweep what?

Most deceased are cremated and the ashes are kept in public crematorium or Chinese Temple. And so the past 2 weeks, we have been making the rounds.

The first was the Mandai Crematorium where the deceased are housed in HDB looking block of 'flats'. The environment here is serene very suitable for the dead who I am sure appreciate the peace and quietness.

The ashes of the deceased are kept in urns placed into the niches. Flowers, mostly fakes are placed on the outside of the niche. One macabre thing is that the living can also buy the niche space and reserve it for themselves so that presumably they can be next to their families and loves one when it is their time to reside there. What is most sad is to see the small toys placed here and there in memory of the little ones who has no chance to grow up. The aisle are kept clean by a battery of cleaners so the 'tomb' sweeping seems to be redundant here.

Over in Bedok South, is this temple where the remains of M's ancestors are kept.

Temples like this all over the island have alloted spaces within the temple to house the remains and these places don't come cheap. Like real property, the 'purchase price' varies according to location. Pay more for eye level niches spaces, better view.

Is there a Christian equivalent of these?

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