Sungei Road

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Last Qing Ming for some residents (Bukit Brown)

Qing Ming 2014 marks the year that many tombs will be forcibly moved to make way for the 8 lane highway and for many descendants is the last opportunity to pay respects in-situ to their ancestors before they move house. I took the opportunity also to capture some of the Qing Ming ceremonies still in practice for many generations as well as to show evidence the importance of Bukit Brown as a cultural place where this practices continue till today and the many tombs seemingly forgotten to the untrained eye, that are still visited till today.
An affected tomb, peg 3702 along Lornie Road
A tomb seemingly in disrepair but not forgotten
Flowers together with offerings to the ancestor and earth diety
Another tomb seemingly in disrepair but not forgotten 
Flowers are also a common sight 
Windmill 

Cultural Heritage Practices


1) Colored paper was placed underneath a stone on the grave to signify that someone had visited the grave and that it had not been abandoned or forgotten.

colored paper  with stone on headstone
2) Repainting of the red or guilt lettering on the tomb as symbol of reverence and tomb sweeping /cleaning.
Repainting of lettering
A family effort 
3) Paper Offerings to Lions. If anyone know the significance of this, do let me know. Leave a comment or email me. 

4) Offerings to the Earth Deity for taking care of the ancestor(s).
Offerings to Earth Deity 
Offerings to Earth Deity 
5) Participation by inter-generational family members that helps reaffirm the common bond or root despite living under separate roofs or geographical location in a peaceful and green setting. 
Remembering their ancestors among the peg graves
A celebration of burning paper offerings and the shouting of huat !

A celebration of being remembered

I leave you with two poignant images which perfectly symbolise what i feel and my parting words. 

First is an image of a simple headstone with the words weathered with time and elements. I am unable to make out who is buried here and when she/ he passed away. However the occupant is not forgotten as you can see from the picture below. 
Paper and food offerings on an unmarked tomb 
Second is the image of a simple inverted heart shaped headstone of a young boy by the name of Lee Liang Hoon who was the fourth son of Dr & Mrs. Lee Lian Hoe. Baby Lee Liang Hoon was born on March 1929 and passed away on February 1931. He was barely 2 years old when he passed away. This simple tomb is located high up on Hill 3, but someone obviously made the difficult trip up hill and paid respects. 
Baby Lee Liang Hoon
(Hill 3 B plot 996)
Both images gave me time to reflect that no matter what we do, we are just but mere mortals that will eventually die. This is our predestined faith, no matter how wealthy, powerful or influential we are. I have seen tombs in Bukit Brown of influential pioneers whose achievement are written in historical text or name remembered by a Street name, but not been visited at all during Qing Ming and yet simple tombs that seemed weathered or worn or even  run down and in disrepair that are celebrated despite passing away 70 years ago or more.

Rather than make hasty pre-judgement that the rich tombs are not cared for which is untrue, i just wanted to say that don't discount those in disrepair. Many are remembered till today and this are captured by the pictures i took on Sunday, 30th March.

Related post

Bukit Brown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.(Rojak Librarian) posted on April 2, 2013

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