JOHOR BARU: The long weekend in Johor has provided families with an early start to Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day.
Singer Alex Lim, 43, said he was pleased to find a smaller crowd when he turned up at the Johor Baru Tiong-Hua Association’s memorial park here to pay respects to his deceased parents yesterday.
“In previous years, it was always crowded, and my family and I had to wait under the hot sun for others to finish their prayers at the columbarium before taking our turn.
“We did not have to wait this time as there were not many others around.
“I believe it’s because many families chose to take advantage of the long weekend,” he explained when interviewed.
Lim added that he visited the memorial park with his elder sister, godfather and a niece who works in Singapore. They brought fresh flowers and other prayer items.
Qing Ming is a major festival in the Chinese calendar where families will gather and clean the graves of their departed loved ones and ancestors.
It falls on April 5 this year. The occasion is usually observed 10 days before or after the actual date.
Sales executive Chua Jen Nie, 39, said her family decided to take advantage of the long weekend and conduct the Qing Ming prayers for her grandparents on Thursday to avoid the crowd.
“Larger crowds are usually expected on weekends, making it difficult to get a parking spot as the road is narrow as well.
“Having a long holiday in Johor also meant that my two children did not have to skip school to join the prayer rituals.
“It is important for the next generation to participate in the age-old tradition, as Qing Ming is one of the most important occasions in Chinese culture,” she added.
The long weekend in Johor started on the first day of Ramadan, which was a Thursday, as the state has always marked the start of the fasting month with a public holiday.
It also coincided with Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar’s birthday, so the Johor government declared a replacement holiday on Sunday in accordance with Section 3 of the Holidays Act.
When contacted, state health and unity committee chairman Ling Tian Soon said the recent floods in Johor did not damage any Chinese cemeteries or memorial parks.
“Chinese graveyards are usually located on hilly or higher ground, so none were inundated with water despite many parts of Johor being flooded.
“There was some soil erosion due to the large amount of rainfall at the beginning of the month, but repairs have been done by the respective cemetery committees,” he added.