Monday, April 11, 2011

Pure Brightness Festival

Or at least that's the closest direct translation you may get for Qingming Jie 清明节. Otherwise known as the Tomb Sweeping Day which regularly falls in spring sometime in the first days of April. It's a time when the Chinese people hike up the hills and valleys to visit the graves or burial grounds of their ancestors for the annual spring cleaning.

What my cousins and I call our annual spring picnic. While we adhere to the ancient customs of sweeping the tombs clean, we have also injected an element of fun to the sombre proceedings by carting up huge umbrellas, suntan lotion and a gargantuan picnic basket filled with the trimmings. Thoroughly shocking the rest of the more traditional crowd coming to pay their respects.

This year however I begged out of the ceremonies citing work.

Though I still somehow ended up in a wooden chair folding hell dollars.

Paul : Damn, it looks like the Borgias are expecting us!

Yes, I actually was in the country estate of Charming Calvin helping his wicked momma Madame Borgia fold hell banknotes. Dutiful son-in-law that I am.

Ostensibly bringing a wandering tourist to visit their family estate, I found the family matriarch busy sorting out hell banknotes and paper replicas of material goods to burn for the departed. Since there was no one else around, what else could I do but offer to help?

Though I doubt Madame Borgia was suitably impressed when I folded the notes into paper cranes - instead of the usual gold ingots.

Paul : Come, let me help you arrange the items for the festival.
Madame : Thank you but there is no need. Perfectly fine on my own, in fact I've been doing this for years.
Paul : Maybe I should come with you for the festival!
Madame : Capital idea. Maybe you should!
Paul : I mean, since I have a foreign guest with me. Not as family or anything.
Madame : That's what I mean as well.

For a moment I worried whether she had just received a pure blinding epiphany. Pure Brightness Festival after all. Fortunately I had already mapped out the quickest escape route from their hillside home the very first time I walked in.

Just in case.

Sometimes I wonder whether the sly lady has actually grasped the full extent of the relationship between me and Calvin. Or whether Madame Borgia remains utterly blissfully unaware of the clandestine affair happening right before her eyes. Surely Calvin's amateurish attempts to prevaricate would fool no one.

Reason enough to keep an eye out in case she has something up her sleeve.


shane said...

it's been sometimes i dont indulge in Qingming, cant even remember my last one

thompsonboy said... Qingming an indulgence these days? Kids... tsk tsk

I had to perform my duty as the only son...and it aint pretty

Life for Beginners said...

Ooh. Paper cranes instead of gold ingots. Classy.

*wonders if the dearly departed would appreciate the cranes instead of cash when they wanna play mahjong in the spirit world*


shane said...

oh anyway.sorry for being a kid

Tempus said...

suntan lotion seriously? how far can people go these days man.. well qing ming is getting a lil hectic these days are the 4 hours traveling almost killed all my brain cells of boredom. But I guess its a tradition that we need to uphold as cinapeks.

savante said...

Time to go rediscover the fun, shane :)

Fortunately have cousins aplenty to keep my company. But yeah, we try to keep the tradition alive, thompsonboy.

My grandma doesn't think so, life :) In fact she usually makes a few gold ingots to pile on top!

It's freaking hot up on the hill, tempus! Don't wanna get burnt!


Tempus said...

oo! was lucky this year cause it drizzle a lil, and a rainbow came with it! so not much of hotcakes were made by the end of the day XD