Malaysian families pay homage to loved ones

GEORGE TOWN - Families took advantage of the weekend before the first school term holidays ended to visit the graves of their departed loved ones to fulfil their annual Qing Ming rituals.

The hot scorching sun did not prevent the families from clearing the graves and tombstones at the Mount Erskine cemetery at Jalan Mount Erskine.

The road leading to the cemetery was choked with vehicles as cars were parked on both sides of the road, narrowing the four lanes into two and causing a bumper-to-bumper crawl.

While some families brought along tools for weeding, others brought baskets of food offerings such as roast pork, poultry, traditional cakes, tea, wine, fruits and flowers to be offered to their departed loved ones.

Joss sticks and candles were lit and paper replicas of clothes, hell banknotes and "ingots" of folded gold joss papers were also burnt to ensure a luxurious lifestyle for the departed in the after-world.

The Foong family were among the early birds at the Mount Erskine cemetery, arriving at 7.30am yesterday.

"It's better to come on weekdays but not all of us are available due to work commitments.

"We arrived here early to avoid the massive traffic and began to clear the weeds on my grandfather's tomb.

"After clearing his tomb and offering our prayers, we headed over to my father's tomb, located some 100m away. He passed away in 1998," said financial controller Foong Gai Man, 46, as he placed mini colourful flags on his father's grave.

He said that Qing Ming was an occasion to reinforce families' filial piety to their departed loved ones and also to honour their forefathers.

Qing Ming is a tradition that has been observed for more than 2,500 years where families gather to pay respect and homage to their ancestors and the deceased.

The festival can be celebrated 10 days before and 10 days after the actual date of April 5.