Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Qing Ming Festival

The last two days, week really, are big TEMPLE going days.... Yesterday marks the combined celebration of Women's Day & Children's Day... so even with the non-stop rain - people everywhere flocked to the Temples.... Us included!!! Today marks the day of Qing Ming Festival, also commonly known as Tomb Sweeping Day. Qingming,meaning clear and bright, is the day for mourning the dead . It falls in early April every year. It corresponds with the onset of warmer weather, the start of spring plowing, and of family outings. In ancient China, Qingming was by no means the only time when sacrifices were made to ancestors. In fact such ceremonies were held very frequently, about every two weeks, in addition to other important holidays and festivals. The formalities of these ceremonies were in general very elaborate and expensive in terms of time and money.
It is said that, in an effort to reduce this expense, Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty declared in 732 AD that respects would be fomally paid at the tombs of ancestors only on the day of Qingming.This is the custom that continues to date. People will visit their ancestors' graves. They will tidy up, remove weeds and sweep away leaves. This is why Qingming is also known as the Grave Sweeping Day. Beijing's subway is particularly crowded around Qingming as people flock to Babaoshan, Beijing's most famous cemetery and crematorium, to pay respects to their departed loved ones.Qingming is not just a day of remembrance, it is also a day to celebrate the coming of spring, often by going out for a picnic. With the coming of spring, nature wakes up, dressing the world in green. All is new, clean and fresh. People do flock to the cemeteries, as well as, Temples to honour, remember and give respect to their dearly departed ones.... This year, I only got as far as the Temples.... Nighttime visit at the Boan Temple....