Sarikei 2006 - Smoke from the burning enveloped the cemetery
The cemetery is not well organised after >50 years of legacy
Christian & non-Christian graves sit harmoniously as neighbours
(Pictures courtesy of cybreed.blogspot.com)
Ching Ming (clear & bright in Chinese or Cheng Beng in Hokkien) festival is also called the grave-sweeping festival. It's observed in April. Chinese families show their respect to ancestors & loved ones by visiting their graves to clear away weeds, touch up gravestone inscriptions, burn incense and make food & wine offerings. The burning of imitation paper money & other paper goodies is for the deceased to use in the afterlife. In modern days, there are fancy paper goodies including clothes, radios, TVs, cars, etc.
Ancestor worship is the native religion of China and that may have been the origin of Ching Ming festival. Buddhism, Christianity and Islam were imported to China. Confucianism & Taoism started in China but are philosophies rather than religions. In Confucianism, ancestor worship is incorporated as the virtue of filial piety.
In the 70's, the Sarikei Chinese cementery was more chaotic than what you see above. The non cement paths were overgrown with jungle foliage and visitors had to clear them with a parang (chopper) to reach their relatives' graves. There's an eerie feeling of calmless and a distinct smell as one stepped beyond the wooden entry gantry. After the rituals were completed, people felt a sense of achievement and dedication to their deceased relatives. The Malays have their own cementry at the kampung area behind Ngiu Kee department store but they observe their own customs.
Life is a passage and your destiny is the path you have selected. The Apple iPod is not available as a paper goodie (yet) for those mp3 suckers.