Today is Tomb Sweeping day in Taiwan and China. Well actually, it isn’t traditionally today, traditionally its next week, but as with so many other celebrations in Asia the infrastructure can’t cope with the masses of people and now the government has officially extended the day over two additional weekends to relieve some of the pressure.
Tomb Sweeping day isn’t an activity many visitors to Taiwan would get the opportunity to partake in, not having relatives with tombs in the country which they can attend. Therefore I was really honoured to be invited by me friend Cynthia’s parents to join them on a visit to her father’s parent’s tomb on the outside of the city. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but the whole event was really peaceful and nice, its the one day of the year when all Taiwanese people visit their ancestor’s tombs and pay respect, clean the area and make offerings to the gods and to their ancestors.
Each tomb is usually for a couple, although sometimes for an individual or a whole family. They vary in size but are all generally bigger than ours in Britain, with most of those we saw today being about the size of a garage each. There are many different styles, some are flat to the ground, some have roofs and some are large rooms.
The ‘tomb sweeping’ starts with the lighting of incense sticks and some prayers, and once the incense is half burnt the family gather to burn pieces of card resembling paper money, gold ingots, silver ingots and other items of value. The gold is burnt for the gods and the silver for the ancestors. Offerings of fresh fruit are also made – in the past this would have been cooked meals but again, in a concern over the amount of waste this led to the government is trying to encourage people to use fruit instead and to take it away with them again afterwards to use.
I wasn’t going to take pictures but was encouraged to by Cynthia and her family, so here are a few 😊