Ching Ming – grave clearing

Ching Ming means bright and clear in Mandarin. It is the annual grave clearing and paying honour to the deceased ceremony. The actual date falls on April 5th each year but these rituals can be carried out 10 days before and 10 days after the actual date. This is to enable families to travel far and wide to return to their ancestors grave.


Grasses are cleared from the graves and yellow and white papers are placed on the top. Sometimes, old couples buy a double grave and if one has passed away, there is space for his/her spouse. If the grave is ’empty’, then red and white papers are placed on top. People used to put pebbles on the papers but now, they have little colourful flags to poke on these white/yellow papers.


Favourite foods which the deceased used to like are brought to the graves as offerings. Filial children will lovingly prepare these foods and bought fruits etc for the deceased. Sometimes, if times are good, they will buy a whole roasted pig (can costs as much as RM500) for the offerings.


This little shrine here is the ‘thor tay kong’ or what the Chinese call, ‘the gate keeper’. After clearing the grave, placing the paper, arranging all the foods, the family will burn joss-sticks and ask the little old man here to give permission to the deceased soul to come for the feast.


Paper paraphernalias consisting of gold and silver, clothings and other stuffs are burnt for the deceased.


After all that, the foods are distributed for the families and sometimes,we even have picnics up there on the hill.

I am a Catholic and though I do not participate in the prayers, I do let my children partake in some of the things which are cultural like placing the papers on the grave and throwing confettis for their grandparents. Overall it is a loud and cheerful family gathering to remember and honour the dead.

You can find more personal thoughts on my personal site.

Post Author: lilian

Used to be PenangFaces, now known as Food Haven, for all oink-oink foods

7 thoughts on “Ching Ming – grave clearing

    […] Surf over to my Food Haven for more pics, non-halal varieties. […]


    (March 26, 2006 - 2:28 pm)

    In case people wonder why there are joss-sticks on the piggie body, we actually stick the joss-sticks there to shoo off flies. And also mosquitoes.


    (March 27, 2006 - 7:53 am)

    Lilian, you stick the joss-sticks on the piggy to signify it has been offered. Otherwise, “tak sah” and ancestors not able to receive it.


    (December 5, 2006 - 8:22 am)


    I’m researching a piece I’m writing on Ching Ming and was interested to find this blog entry – it has been very helpful!

    I’d be grateful if you could explain what “tak sah” means and whether it is a Cantonese term.

    Thank you.


    (December 5, 2006 - 2:45 pm)

    Vanessa – I think what slau said was in BM. Tak sah means not official. It means the joss-sticks act as a seal to say that this is for the dead. Otherwise, maybe they believe that the dead can’t claim their shares.


    (December 5, 2006 - 7:33 pm)

    Thank you.

    “BM” – is that Beijing Mandarin?


    (December 6, 2006 - 7:44 pm)

    One more question if you don’t mind. What sauce/marinade is the pig coated with (if any) and do you know how long it takes to cook? Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *