Monday, 2 April 2012

Tomb Sweeping day

This week we have a few days off work for Qingming Jie ( 清明节) or Tomb Sweeping day. While we are enjoying the time to relax and enjoy the sunshine, traditionally this is the time for Chinese people to visit the graves of their ancestors and honour them. They burn incense and paper money (for use in the afterlife) and offer food and alcohol. 

During Qingming festival people also go on family or group outings. We went with F's school on Sunday to a local park so have a picnic, play games and fly kites. As every class in the city goes on a local trip on the same day, the park was mobbed, but we survived and it was great to feel part of that school community.

The Chinese people believe that it is their responsibility to honour and respect their ancestors in the afterlife and also to provide for them. Loyalty to your parents is deeply rooted in Chinese society, which is still very influenced by Confucian thought. They believe that family relationships are eternal and that our parents and ancestors can continue to influence our lives after death.

I know the feeling.

I'm not too sure about the concept of an afterlife but influence after death, absolutely. 

I do believe that love continues when the person has gone. As parents we commit to love our children for all of their lives, regardless of how many years we will live alongside them. Similarly, our parents will always be our parents and influence our lives. Not a day goes past that my thoughts are not influenced in some way by my Mum, how she would react in certain situations and what she would think of my life now. I will respect her and think about her and treasure my memories for the rest of my days.

I have no grave to sweep, instead my mother's ashes were scattered here, almost exactly a year ago, in the glen where I grew up. It was a beautiful Spring day. we had a boat full of friends, music, flowers and gin and we scattered 'our lady of the loch'.