Malaysia – Cheng Beng –

I traveled to the northern part of Malaysia with my wife so that she could perform the Cheng Beng with her brother and other family members in early April 2017.

Cheng Beng (Qing Ming in Mandarin), falls on the third month of the lunar calendar and usually coincides with the 4th or 5th of April it is one of the big events in the Chinese calendar. This is Chinese equivalent of All Souls’ Day.

During this month, relatives visit cemeteries and temples to clean the ancestral graves, remember and reflect on those that have departed and make food offerings to the spirits of their departed loved ones. The family burn paper money and paper replicas of material goods such as cars, homes, phones and anything else that may be of use. In Chinese culture, it is believed that souls of the departed still need all of those things in the afterlife. Family members take turns to kowtow three to nine times before the tomb of the ancestors. Kowtowing ritual in front of the grave is performed in the order of patriarchal seniority within the family.

As an observer I noticed that each family, large or small performed the Cheng Beng in various ways. Some were modest and other lavish. The burning of paper money and various offerings soon created a very smoky atmospheric environment.

I also visited a Buddhist Temple to watch and observe the same ritual. Personally I found the Temple setting more spiritual and moving than the cemetery version as Buddhist monks were present, this seemed to me to give an air of authenticity.

The monks gather around a families offerings and begin chanting (sounded like a Gregorian chant) whilst family members knelt and assumed the praying position while the chanting was taking place. The chanting, burning of joss sticks and the burning of paper offerings tied the whole event together.

81O_0424CB_WP
A the entrance of the cemetery is a small alter and place to burn joss sticks say a few prayers and make a small paper offering, to be burn to the side of the alter.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Like most other cemeteries there are rows and rows of graves.
81O_0434CB_WP
Looking straight on at one of the graves. The green lettering indicates that both husband and wife have passed. The smaller writings make reference to those that are left / still paying tax.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Food offerings along with spoons and chop stick for the deceased to use and enjoy.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
To the right of the main grave is a small horseshoe shaped item where joss sticks are placed.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The paper and stone indicate that the family have been and the Cheng Beng has been done.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Other people have placed small flags around the perimeter of the mound of earth that is at the rear of the grave to indicate that Cheng Beng has been done.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
As mentioned above. To the right of the main grave is a small horseshoe shaped item of stone work where joss sticks are placed. On this occasion paper money to be burnt is elaborately folded. Some people go to great lengths other prefer a more simple approach.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A father and son burn paper money.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The very detailed and intricate workmanship of a Buddhist Temples roof.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
As above but a different building.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
One of the hundreds of red candles used.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Some marvellous Temple art work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Its hard not to be impressed with this level of detail.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
These green sticks with names upon them are the names of the deceased.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
In the temple setting food offerings are placed on a table. It still includes a full set of crockery spoons and chop sticks.Note small bowls of rice on the right.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Chanting monks.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Chanting monks.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Chanting monks.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
In a the Temple setting the paper items that may be required in the afterlife are all burnt in one central location just on the perimeter of the Temple. It was actually very hot and extremely smoky.

10 thoughts on “Malaysia – Cheng Beng –

  1. Nice to see the photos of this event. Something very unusual for our western eyes. I like the details of the buildings a lot, and the graves are well-kept indeed.
    I was left wondering if those monks eat all the food offerings though…
    Cheers mate, Pete.

    1. Re monks and food…Well judging by the size of some of them…Its quite possible…From what Natalie tells me I gather that the fruit is left behind and the meat / rice is removed.:-)

    1. Thank you.
      Its your turn now..Study “f” stops & exposure compensation. Put those creative hands to a different use.

  2. When a deeper understanding exists between cultures through education and exchange, the mystery diminishes resulting in increased trust. This world needs more honesty and trust.

    Thank you for sharing the photos, that are fantastic, but also the commentary that informs.

    Dave D

  3. Your well-written and culturally-sensitive account of this important ceremony is exceeded only by the beauty of your photos! So sorry we didn’t get to meet when Doug and I were in London recently. But I now feel as if I’ve gotten a little glimpse into the heart, mind and spirit of the man who married my dear friend.

    1. Hello and many thanks for your comments. No doubt we will be in the USA sooner or later and I’m looking forward to meeting you guys.
      Have a good day. AK

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s