CHRISTIANS thronged cemeteries all over Malaysia to honour the departed on All Souls’ Day.
They offered prayers, placed flowers and lit candles at the graves of their loved ones.
At the Western Road Christian cemetery in Jalan Utama, Penang, many families showed up as early as 7am.
Among them were M. Mitchell Dass, 51, and his family, who gathered around the grave of his late parents.
“We are here to honour 17 important persons in our lives. They include my late great grandparents, parents, aunt, elder brother and sisters, who are buried here,” he said.
With him were his wife S. Rajeswari, 51, and their three daughters M. Divinia, 21, Ursella, 19, and Keerthika, 18.
“Once every two months, our father will spruce up the graves and sometimes, we will join him,” Ursella said.
Optician K. Nicholas, 60, who was visiting his parents’ graves with his wife Esther Poh, said he observed All Souls’ Day since he was a young boy.
“I spend around two hours at the graves, praying for their souls with the rosary,” he said.
Daniel Lee, 66, who moved to Kuala Lumpur many years ago, said the trip back to Penang was initiated by his sister Lee Siew Khim, 61.
“It has been over 10 years since I last came here. My mother used to be very fussy about cleanliness, and I think I have followed in her footsteps,” said Lee, while scrubbing dirt off his mother’s grave.
“I often recall the many fond memories with my mother, who died in 1979,” he said.
Odd-job worker G. Saravanan, 45, said many would engage his services to clean the graves.
“I have been cleaning graves for the past 15 years. It takes me about half an hour for a fee of RM70. I also repair and maintain graves.
“The highest amount I received so far was RM3,000, for repairing and cleaning a grave,” he said.
Saravanan also pointed to the grave where the sculpture of a life-sized dog sits on it.
From stories he had heard over the years, he said the loyal dog had stayed by its owner’s grave until it died.
“Many people come here to see this unique grave. It belongs to Andrew Duncan, who passed away in 1931,” he said.
At about 10am, priests from the nearby Catholic churches conducted a service at the cemetery.
“We have to continue to live the legacy of our departed ones,” Rev Oliver Tham said in his shortsermon.
After the 30-minute service, the priests sprinkled holy water on the graves.
The other priests present were Rev Martin Arlando, Rev Joachim Robert, Rev Francis Anthony, Rev Aloysius Tan and Rev S. Arul.
All Souls’ Day, which is known in the Roman Catholic church as the ‘commemoration of all the faithful departed’, is observed annually on Nov 2.