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Chinese Qingming Festival Is Now Online

Born and raised in Malaysia, he is proud of his Malaysian and Asian heritage and likes to share its mysteries, culture & current issues.

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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 ten days before and ten days after this date.

Qingming Festival in China and Around 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 to Qingming festival.

Typical scene during Qing Ming festival with family members bringing offerings for prayer, cleaning & tending to the graves

Typical scene during Qing Ming festival with family members bringing offerings for prayer, cleaning & tending to the graves

Qing Ming Festival Is Now Online

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 dedicated 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.

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.

Is Qing Ming on YouTube?

Yes! This, to some of you, may sound odd or even bizarre. Certain family members have turned to video uploads 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.

Read More from WanderWisdom

So What Say the Traditionalist?

The traditionalists, however, are not happy with all these new developments to the Qingming 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.

Paying respect to loved ones during qing ming festival in Hong Kong

Paying respect to loved ones during qing ming festival in Hong Kong

Qingming Festival Response 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 is that going online is a more meaningful homage to the ancestors during the Qingming festival.

On-Line Memorial

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 offering  Chinese to create an online memorial  website to their Departed.

Screenshot of a typical website offering Chinese to create an online memorial website to their Departed.

So How Will Qingming be Celebrated in the Future?

Nowadays, the Chinese are 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 those 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 online 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?

History and 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 A

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