A lot of overseas Sarikei folks go back to Sarikei during the Qing Ming festival 清明節 in late March or early April to pay respects to their deceased family members and ancestors. In fact some of them only go home for this festival and not for the Chinese New Year.
2.5 Mile Graveyard near Sekolah Tinggi
2.5Mile Graveyard near Sekolah Tinggi
I have blogged on the origins of Ching (Qing) Ming festival in 2006 (click Festival label). Qing Ming festival falls on 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually around 5th April of the Gregorian calendar. For every leap year (eg: 2008), Qing Ming will fall on April 4.
Graveyard near the swimming pool, 3.5 mile
There are at least 4 Chinese graveyards in Sarikei. The earliest graveyard (a small one) for Cantonese and Hokkien is at a small hill at 1.5mile Repok Road at a branch road, Jalan Ranyon 南洋路, just after Jalan Durian. The Cantonese removed the urns from the old cemetery and reburied them at a new cemetery in Bulat at 7th mile. The new cemetery sits on a piece of land that was a 40-acre old rubber plantation. This was bought by the Cantonese association from the Chen family of 廣合興 Kong Hup Heng (No.5 Wharf Road) for RM$40,000 during the time when communists were active. Sarikei’s Cantonese custom is to dig up the casket after a few years and the bones are kept inside an urn for reburial. (source: reader Lidasar)
My great grandmother (Cantonese) was the first person to be buried at Bulat's cemetery. By the way, Bulat means round or circular in Malay. What's the origin of that name?
Does anyone know how many graveyards there are in Sarikei? You can see 2 graveyards in this post. Sarikei's Chinese graveyards are not well planned or organised like the paved grids in Kuching. In fact, the tombs in Sarikei's graveyards are all over the place and messy with overgrown weeds. If you ever stepped over a tomb by mistake, the tradition is to say sorry to the deceased.
There's an unmistakable serenity as you visit the graveyards during the day. Some people, especially the older folks, will mutter to the dead as if they are engaging in a conversation while others pay respects quietly in their heart.
Life is a journey. Happy tomb sweeping, folks.