Born and raised in Malaysia, Mazlan is proud of his Malaysian and Asian heritage and likes to share its mysteries, culture & current issues.
What is Qingming Festival?
Qingming, or Tomb Sweeping Day or Ancestors Day, is a festival where the Chinese will visit and tend to the graves of loved ones. They will also pray and make offerings to the departed with foods, fruits, tea or wine, joss papers and other accessories such as paper money. Chinese Qing-Ming Festival, in a way, is equivalent to All Souls Day.
This normally happens on 5th April. However, the celebration will start 10 days before and 10 days after this date.
Qing Ming Festival in China and Other Parts of the World
Qingming festival is declared a public holiday in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and only recently in mainland China. In my country, Malaysia and our neighboring countries Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, Qing Ming is not a public holiday.
Despite this, most of the Chinese communities will diligently follow this tradition and take leave from work to attend to these rites. Some will go on weekends but these are normally the busiest time and traffic can be bad.
For the Chinese expatriates who had migrated to other countries or working/studying overseas, this gives them a good excuse to come back home and celebrate Qing Ming with the rest of the family members.
This, however, can sometimes be difficult and challenging and many cannot make it for Qing Ming festival.
Qing Ming Festival is now On-Line
The Chinese who faced this difficulty have now turned to the world wide web to observe Qing Ming and make their offerings to their ancestors.
Qingming is on Facebook
Some have even set up an account and dedicate a Facebook page to their loved ones. Besides having a profile of the departed, the page will also inform other family members, relatives and friends of any coming and future prayer dates.
Qing Ming is Also Popular as Online Memorial Websites
As these online alternatives are now slowly becoming more acceptable, many Chinese are turning these religious rites to be more accessible and reachable to all the family members, relatives, and friends, wherever they are in this world.
Qing Ming on YouTube? Yes!
This, to some of you, may sound odd or even bizarre. Certain family members have turned to video upload such as YouTube to keep the memories of loved ones, alive. Most will carefully select the right music, words and photos to immortalize the departed.
So What Say the Traditionalist?
The traditionalists, however, are not happy with all these new developments on the Qing Ming festival. They say these acts will taint the Chinese tradition and the very act of being physically at the cemeteries or columbariums, tending and cleaning the graves whilst doing prayer and the offerings, and other religious rites.
Qing Ming festival - Reply From the Tech Savvy
The Tech and IT savvy Chinese, usually the younger generations, may argue that the spirit of the Qing Ming festival is to remember the departed. So irrespective of how you do the rites, going online is acceptable.
They will further argue that this is the greener approach with no carbon impact. Otherwise, with thousands or even millions of overseas Chinese flying and driving to the cemeteries, the carbon footprint and impact will be horrendous!
There's also the chance of getting viewers to give responses - leaving comments and opinions.
Hence, their final conclusion: Going on-line is a more meaningful homage to the ancestors during the Qingming festival.
Despite all these arguments, using cyberspace to pay homage to their love ones during the Qing Ming festival, are now gaining acceptance. In some countries such as China and Hong Kong, entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this popularity to offer dedicated online memorial websites. Via these websites, family members, relatives, and friends can perform on-line offerings to the departed.
Once they enter the website, they can choose the many offering items, supplied by the site. Members have the option of laying food, fruits or flowers and even light candles at this on-line memorial. Members can also create and upload photos and videos.
Screenshot of a Typical Website
Qingming Festival Online
So How Will Qing Ming be Celebrated in the Future?
Nowadays, the Chinese is buried in a modern, well kept memorial park. Family members will pay monthly maintenance fees to ensure a clean and well kept burial plot.
There are also who opted to be cremated and the ashes kept in columbariums.
So some may argue if there's a need to visit the cemeteries at all. They think that making on-line offerings will be the better choice. With the younger generation aping the Western cultures, the traditional way of practicing filial piety, which is the foundation of Chinese culture and tradition, may have difficulty in finding many takers.
So how will the Qing Ming festival be celebrated in the future?
Tough question. My guess is, it will most probably go in the direction of cyberspace.
What say you?
Read My Other Articles on Chinese Festivals
You can read my other articles on Chinese festivals by following the links below:
- Chinese New Year Celebration in Malaysia
- Tangerines and Oranges : Chinese New Year Symbols
- Chinese Zodiac Story : A Bedtime Story
- Ushering in Year of Dragon - Chinese New Year 2012
History & Origin of Qingming Festival
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Mazlan
Mazlan (author) from Malaysia on March 27, 2012:
Hi hoteltravel, I know it sounds odd, but it's already happening in my country. I was told, it is even more prevalent in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.
hoteltravel from Thailand on March 27, 2012:
When I started reading this hub, I felt skeptical about going online with such a traditional ceremony. But the arguments you put forth were forceful and valid and managed to turn me around. I also agree that cyberspace is the future. Voted up and interesting.