A family affair of 5 generations gather for Qing Ming in Malaysia

The Tan family paying homage to their departed loved ones for the Qing Ming festival at the Batu Gantung cemetery in Penang.
The Star/ANN

GEORGE TOWN - For the past seven decades, the Tan family has been faithfully observing a tradition to gather at the tomb of their ancestors for Qing Ming.

Thirty nine of them from five generations - the oldest being 85 years old and the youngest, an 18-month-old toddler - were at the Batu Gantung cemetery here yesterday for the yearly ritual.

They worked together to clean the surroundings of the tomb of Tan Teik Koo, Ong Luan and Tan Choon Lai before offering food to the deceased.

Tan Hwa Hwa, who is the granddaughter of Teik Koo and Ong, said the family has fixed the Sunday before the actual Qing Ming day as the tomb sweeping day for the family.

"On that day, almost all our family members who are in Penang will free up their time to be present at the cemetery to pray to my grandparents and Choon Lai, who is my sixth uncle.

"This has been our tradition for over 70 years since the passing of my grandfather in 1945," said Hwa Hwa, who is a retired headmistress of Han Chiang Primary School.

She added that Qing Ming was the biggest reunion for the family, other than the Chinese New Year.

In her younger days, her parents and uncles would bring her and her cousins here to observe Qing Ming, she said.


"Now, we continue the tradition by bringing our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren together on this day, as we feel that filial piety is one of the most important values that need to be instilled in the younger generation.

"This is also a day to honour our ancestors' contribution to our family, and to remember our roots," she added.

Qing Ming, which falls on April 4, is the Chinese version of All Souls' Day, where families gather and pay homage to their ancestors.

Paper paraphernalia are burnt for the departed loved ones in a belief that the deceased could "receive" and "use" these items in the otherworld.

All roads leading to cemeteries and columbariums in Penang were congested yesterday.

Read also: 6 unusual items people burn to send their loved ones in the afterlife