Home Bound Day of the Dead

It’s a different Cheng Beng festival for the Chinese community today as the Movement Control Order (MCO) measures are tightened in view of a peak of Covid 19 infections in mid-April.

This annual festival which is essentially the Chinese version of ‘All Souls Day’ is one where families gather at cemeteries all over the country to clean the graves of their ancestors, offer food and burn offerings for the departed souls.

It is celebrated by the Chinese community in Malaysia and all over the world.

Near the neighbourhood where I grew up, during this time ever year a makeshift tent is set up for people to buy and burn offerings for the dead.

These included paper offerings that resemble mansions, designer goods, clothes, money, maids, and even designer furniture and marquee cars.

At night, in a separate tent across the road a bizarre Chinese Opera show will be performed for an audience which includes one row of seats that are left unoccupied – specially reserved for the dead. The living are not supposed to sit there unless you want to incur the wrath of the dead.

Paper clothes to be burnt as offerings to the dead
Designer shoes and handbag for the dead
The dead like a tipple too!
Luxury cars for the dead
I’m disturbed by this offering – a kid’s schoolbag

For the first time in centuries, there will be no tents, performances, prayers and paper offerings for sale this year as everyone stays home and postpones the annual journey back to their ancestral towns and villages to pray for departed family members.

For now the community has been advised by their leaders to pray and make their offerings at home.

The pictures I have posted above are similar offerings for the dead – sold in shops at the TaiPo Market in Hong Kong.


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