Qingming Festival

PHNOM PENH (Cambodia Herald) – The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, is a Chinese festival when people bring food and drinks to the graves of their ancestors. 

People sweep the burial grounds and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss sticks and paper accessories.

Vinh Chiang from the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh noted that the festival is even celebrated today by Cambodians who are only part Chinese.

Qingming is a chance to pray for happiness, success and promotion, he said.

During the celebration, young and old people alike adorn burial grounds with colorful paper.

According to a belief handed down from the Qing dynasty, people do not worship ancestors who have recently died as this will bring bad luck. 

Staff at the Chinese embassy have three days off during Qingming, which is also known as Thanh Minh in Vietnamese.

Long Pheng, a 63-year-old former Chinese teacher, said the important day for the Qingming Festival in Cambodia this year was April 5.

Choosing the right locations for burial grounds requires assistance from a feng shui master, she said, referring to the “wind and water” Chinese system of geomancy.

Feng shui stipulates that unsuitable locations for graves include sites with ponds in front of or around the grave and mountains or big trees behind.

Long Pheng said she had never celebrated Qingming at the graves of her parents who were sent away and died of starvation during the Pol Pot Regime.

Instead, she has a small celebration at home. Others whose ancestors passed away during the Pol Pot regime go to Chinese temples to offer food and drinks.

Phally, 50, from Mean Chey district in Phnom Penh, said that while she is not even part Chinese, her parents celebrate Qingming at her grandmother’s stupa in front of the family house every year.

While celebrating Qingming brings happiness and good fortune, Phally said she would not be able to make enough money to feed her family without hard work.
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