Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chung Yeung Festival (重陽節)

It was Chung Yeung Festival yesterday.  Our clan, as usual, went to pay our respects to my grand father and his two wives. There were not as many people at the cemetery, as at Qing Ming Festival (清明).  But there were enough burning candles and incense to make people teary.  Particularly in the confined space in the columbarium. 

Many Chinese believe that the dead continue to have needs.  They can feed on burning candles and incense.  And they can receive money, gold, silver, food, clothes, shoes, mobile phones, iPADs, ...   If our dead ancestors and relatives are comfortable in the afterworld, they would be more inclined to help the living.  Particularly in the confines of the columbarium.  Hence all the burning.  Fire can be beautiful and mesmerizing.  But I could not stand the smoke.    And I do not believe that it helps the dead.  Even though it may make the living feel better.

I tend to believe that the fate of the dead are sealed.  Hence it is futile to try to send things to them, or otherwise to try to do things for them.  It is much better to try to treat people better while they are living.   But there is nothing wrong in showing the dead respect.  In fact, it is an honourable thing to do, to show respect to those who particularly deserve it.  It is also a way to remind ourselves where we stand. 

Like Cai Yuan Pei (蔡元培).  I come here to his grave every time I go to the Aberdeen Cemetery.  As usual, there is nobody there at the grave on Sunday.   But it is clean and tidy.  There are no burning candles, incense, or paper money.  But there are flowers.  Obviously there are people who take care of the grave. Considering he has been dead for 70 years, and he has no known descendants in Hong Kong, that is no mean feat.

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