Multicultural Sutton: Visiting the Chinese Ancestors – Qingming (清明) 7.4.2019

Sutton Cemetery

We remember the Chinese ancestors in our family twice a year. In the Spring (at the beginning of April) it is the ‘Qingming’ (清明) Festival where the graves are tidied and made ‘clean’ and ‘bright’ – the literal translation of ‘Qing’ and ‘Ming’. During Autumn (in early October), it is the festival of ‘Chongyang’ (重陽), which translates as feeding and tending to the needs of the ancestors (through burning paper money, paper clothing and paper food, etc) who are mythically thought to reside in the sky (We do not literally believe this old idea). My Partner’s grandparents came to the UK in 1956 (grandad) and 1966 (grandmother) and brought their two daughters with them (including Gee’s mum) from the Hakka area of the New Territories of Hong Kong called ‘Banana Village’ (Sai Kung). This ritual teaches our two daughters Mei-an (nearly 7) and Kai-Lin 2.5) respect the older generations and remember the hardships they endured for the sake of our relatively easier lives today. Buried in Sutton Cemetery are Chueng Yat Tai (1924-2011) [grandfather] and Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) [grandfather]. We wash the gravestones and clear the old flowers, weeds and leaves etc, from the graves, distribute fresh flowers, give Chan Tin Sang a shot of brandy in a glass and light a single cigarette, whilst laying-out fruit for both ancestors. We then clap our hands three times (representing Sky, humanity and earth), and kneel down and bow our heads three times (out of respect).  We often leave with a feeling of fulfilment and contentment. ACW (7.4.2019) 

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Chapel of Rest
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Chapel of Rest
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Chapel of Rest

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Master Chan Tin Sang – Hakka Gongfu Expert

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