Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
PETALING JAYA - Malaysians who observe Qing Ming festival could do so from home amid the movement control order (MCO).
"It is not a must for families to go to the gravesite of their dearly departed during this festival, " said Federation of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Chinese Cemetery and Kwong Tong Cemetery Management Kuala Lumpur president Lee Chun Kong.
"Qing Ming is about remembering our forefathers, paying homage to them and celebrating their lives and legacy.
"We can still do so from home by offering incense, fresh flowers and tea.
"Even for those living in high-rise buildings, one can still do so with simpler offerings, " he said.
Since the MCO started on March 18, Lee said the federation and Kwong Tong had advised families to take precautions and practise social distancing to curb the spread of Covid-19.
"With the extension of the MCO, Malaysians should really take the situation seriously and avoid going out, " he added.
He said caretakers had not seen anyone visiting the Kwong Tong gravesites and columbarium since the MCO was enforced.
Lee's comments were echoed by Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan who urged Malaysians to refrain from tomb-sweeping activities.
"We must all come together and fight this war by prioritising public health and following orders during the MCO.
"The Chinese community should defer tomb-sweeping until a suitable time later.
"It does not affect the thoughts we have for our dearly departed, " he said, adding that people should not put others at risk.
Qing Ming, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day or Chinese All Souls Day, falls on April 4 this year.
The festival, part of a tradition that has been observed for more than 2,500 years, involves family members gathering at cemeteries to clean the tombs and pay homage to their departed loved ones.
However, all such ceremonies have to be put on hold following the MCO, which is being enforced until April 14.
As burial services are still allowed, Lee noted that Kwong Tong has imposed strict rules on funeral rites at its Guang Yi funeral parlours.
"The wake is only allowed for a day before burial or cremation. There should not be over 15 people in a funeral parlour at a time.
"Only selected non-air-conditioned halls would remain open for funeral rites beginning next week, " he added.
He said Kwong Tong had suspended the processing of non-urgent matters, including the sale of burial plots, niches and tombs, as well as the relocation of the remains of the deceased.
"Families are encouraged to simplify funeral rites and the number of people gathering to send off their loved one should be kept small. It is difficult but it is the best during this period."
Nirvana Asia Group founder Tan Sri Kong Hon Kong acknowledged that many people would still prefer to stick to the tradition of performing their filial duty by being present at the tomb.
"However, we are now in unusual times and we encourage social distancing to keep everyone safe, " he said.
"We believe that filial piety can be practised not only during Qing Ming but throughout the year as it is the thought that counts."
"As citizens, we have to abide by the guidelines provided by our government to ensure everyone is safe and protected from the virus, " he added.
In a notice posted on its Facebook page on Wednesday, Nirvana Asia said that other festivals like the Hungry Ghost Festival and Winter Solstice Festival also allow for ancestral worship rites.
Paul Ng, 70, who manages a funeral service and prayer item business with his wife in Melaka, said his business went down significantly since tomb-sweeping activities had been put on hold.
"Funerals are kept simple and not elaborate during this critical time. With offerings being done from home for Qing Ming, less prayer paraphernalia is needed, " he said.
Yee Pau Kong, 50, who sells prayer items in Seri Kembangan, said that over 80 per cent of the items he ordered for Qing Ming were not sold following the MCO.
"The inventory is stuck and I can only hope to sell them next year, " he said.
Yee said he had decided not to operate his business for health concerns, although there had been calls requesting prayer or funeral items.
"It is more important to keep everyone safe. I can think about earning the money later, " he added.