Before you know it, the yearly Qingming Festival is right around the corner – in fact, it’s tomorrow.
While some have already a trip down to the cemetery over the weekend, you can expect some of your neighbours to burn offerings during the traditional tomb-sweeping period for the Taoist and Buddhist. Here are eight tips that will come in handy for devotees and non devotees alike.
- Burn incense paper in the incense burners provided
At public housing estates, devotees should always burn incense paper in the incense burners or metal containers provided by the Town Councils. As for private residential owners, they are also encouraged to use incense paper burner to prevent the ashes from flying around in a haphazard manner.
2. Burn joss paper in small quantities
In case you didn’t realise, burning joss paper in small quantities helps to minimise smoke. Otherwise, you will find yourself breathless and panting even before you’re midway through burning the offerings.
3. Ensure that the incense and embers are completely extinguished before leaving
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Observers should bear in mind to double check that the incense and embers are completely extinguished before leaving the area, lest a fire breaks out.
4. Exercise caution in the disposal of hazardous materials
Devotees should be careful not to throw lighted materials such as candles and matches onto grass patches and fields as they’re fire hazards. This reiterates point 1 again for observers are advised to use burners and containers when burning joss paper, so as to keep the environment clean and free of ash-fly.
5. Clean up after you’re done
The public is also reminded to keep the area clean and not to leave any food offerings and litter behind as it could give rise to mosquito breeding or rat infestation. It’s basic courtesy to clean up after oneself, especially in a public area that is shared by everyone.
6. Practise tolerance for the religious activities
It’s imperative for the public to practise tolerance for the religious activities for these are sensitive issues one should tread lightly upon. Keep in mind not to say or act out in a tactless manner when you come across such activities.
7. No spitting or urinating near the place of offering
This may be seen as offensive and disrespectful to devotees as the place of offering is where they pay respects to their ancestors. To begin with, spitting and urinating in public areas are frowned upon.
8. Throwing cigarette butts into the metal containers
As these containers are for the purpose of prayers, non-devotees should be careful not to dispose of their trash inside them. These receptacles are not meant to be trash bins but regarded as significant places of offering.
A little consideration goes a long way. As we show tolerance for others’ religious practices, we learn to live harmoniously with our neighbours. It’s something we can’t live without – not just in this season.