Families who would usually make the annual visit to cemeteries to pay homage to their ancestors during Qing Ming are now offering prayers for their dearly departed at home.
Bus driver Chew Chee Keong, 58, whose parents are buried in mainland Penanti and grandparents buried in Mount Erskine on the island, decided to just burn joss paper and make home-cooked offerings at his house here.
“Since I was a child, my family would gather for Qing Ming to visit our ancestors’ graves.
“There would be at least 10 to 15 of us around the tombs, but now it’s just me, my wife and our daughter,” said Chee Keong yesterday.
Yesterday was Qing Ming, which is also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day or Chinese All Souls Day.
Traditionally, Chinese families would converge at cemeteries, especially on the weekend leading up to Qing Ming, to clean the tombs and perform rites.
However, the movement control order (MCO) has led to these families observing the occasion at home.
Checks by The Star at cemeteries on the island and mainland found that these places were quiet with no one violating the MCO.
Chee Keong said all the prayer paraphernalia shops were closed, so they had to make do with the joss paper they had at home.
“It is not much, but it should be enough to burn and carry along our heartfelt thoughts to our ancestors.
“I told my parents that we were not able to visit this year because of the restriction.
“Even our relatives living nearby did not come and join us. We don’t mind the MCO since the restriction is to curb Covid-19 for everybody’s good,” he added.
On the island, building contractor Chew Kok Hai, 54, said this year’s Qing Ming was the first time his family of five was staying indoors to pray and share a simple meal in their wooden house at Chew Jetty.
“Every year, we would head to the hills in Batu Lanchang to visit the graves of my late father and grandmother.
“This year, we broke tradition in accordance with the government’s order, which isn’t a bad thing. We do not wish to be exposed to health risks,” he said.
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