I heard over the Chinese airwave, myFM, about a humorous story on Cheng Beng last week. It said that nowadays, other than performing the usual ritual and burning the replicas, we would include burning of firecrackers.
The reason is that it is more fun hearing the loud crack of firecrackers sound amid a quiet background. Another reason is to announce to the alive or dead loudly that “I was there”. Otherwise, the cemetery is just too quiet.
The cemetery at Beruas. Photos by KC
One important factor is due to “old habits die hard”: burning of firecrackers is banned during Chinese New Year days; so, they have to find another occasion and venue to “light those left over firecrackers”.
This year, one of the hot favourite items – replicas of day-to-day and luxury items – are a pack of all branded hand phones. Just in case certain transmission of wavelength such as GPRS or 3G is not receivable “up there”.
My grandparent's tomb.
The “goodies” are burnt in front of tombs so that their loved ones on “the other side” will receive them. Much like sending letters, the sender's and recipient's names are written on the paraphernalia to avoid wrong acceptance of goods.
I went back to my hometown in Beruas on Saturday 31 March with my uncle and brothers to pay respect to my grandparents. Starting the journey at 4:30 a.m., it reminded me that those Pacesetters runners would be getting ready to run the Xiamen International Marathon on the same morning.
I know most people would not have heard of Beruas town: it is located in Perak and Dr. Lim Keng Yaik (Minister of Energy, Water and Telecommunications) is the Member of Parliament of Beruas.
Standby for lighting firecrackers ...
Cheng Beng is an important event to me because that is the time that I would be able to meet my hometown’s friends. Nevertheless, the venue for meeting is somewhere unique – at the cemetery. Though we may not go back for Chinese New Year celebration, most of the friends would be back during this occasion.
True to the announcement in myFM radio station, I heard at least five occasions where firecrackers were let off at the cemetery. Who knows that in many years to come, burning of firecrackers at burial grounds on Cheng Beng day would become another custom.