Qing Ming (also called Tomb-Sweeping Day in English) as an event that promotes honouring one’s deceased loved ones and ancestors, is one of the most important festivals in the lunar calendar. The festival is typically observed with displays of grand tributes and elaborate ceremonial rites as a way of remembering one’s ancestors and calling for blessings upon both the living and departed.
As one can imagine, there is usually plenty of ashes from burnt joss papers and offerings from ceremonial rites left behind at burial sites. As many public cemeteries lack caretakers, food offerings are left exposed to the elements or stray animals. The hygiene around the graves further deteriorate as the offerings decay.
In recent times, due to both growing awareness of environmental-friendliness and Covid-19 safety measures, Chinese culture – normally deeply rooted in ancient practices – has begun to make new developments on old traditions for the continuation of culture, fostering a trend towards practicing civic-mindfulness. Countries like Taiwan have begun exploring new ways to burn joss paper – such as centralised burning and even burning e-joss paper offerings, while virtual tomb-sweeping has become available in China.
Due to living in the ‘new normal’ caused by Covid, some places in Malaysia have begun the practice of making appointments for Qing Ming in order to be considerate and civic-minded towards public safety and preventing the spread of Covid.
For Qing Ming 2021, consider how you can practice civic-mindfulness when visiting a departed loved one.