The Qing Ming Festival or we called it Cheng Beng in Hokkien dialect usually falls around April 5. However, since 2012 is a Leap Year, QingMing falls on April 4 which is today.
Qing Ming Festival is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day or Ancestors Day is traditional Chinese festival practiced in many countries in Asia especially China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and even Vietnam.
Here in Malaysia, the Chinese community usually observes Qing Ming 10 days before and 10 days after the actual day. My family (the Tan Family) usually tries to do it earlier before to avoid crowded cemetery ground. Yes, it can get pretty jammed up especially during the weekends.
The Tan Family never fails to visit 3 different memorial parks since my grandfather passed away back in 1983. Cleaning up tombs and cemetery ground is much easier now since these memorial parks are taken cared by different organization that is into the undertaking business. However, there’s a lot more to do especially cleaning up the much older tombs.
Since that most of our ancestors and my grandparent had passed away for quite some time, visiting them during Qing Ming Festival is more of a cheerful moment. Cheerful because we are all together as a family to visit and pay respect to our ancestors. But for some families, Qing Ming can be quite a solemn moment.
Just few days ago, I’ve found out that a company in China is actually making business from such somber moments by making it… dreary. Yes, they are the Professional Criers and they can Cry-On-Demand for a charge of 300 Yuan (RM146) for every 10 minutes of ‘crying’.
The tomb-sweeping services are also available and it will cost 3,000 Yuan (RM1, 457) for local cemeteries and as high as 20,000 Yuan (RM9, 714) for tombs located at remote areas. The package includes fruits, joss sticks and offerings. Such services are usually to mourn the death of a certain someone who was not completely adored in life.
These professionals can even read out the eulogy, kowtow, and cry or call out your relatives’, father’s or mother’s names. The process usually takes 30-45 minutes and they can even provide you with a video clip of the whole process! Will we need such service in the future? I surely hope not. But I’ve gotta admit that such dreary business is really enterprising.