This is a prelude to the Ching Ming Festival which is just around the corner. But Ching Ming usually coincides with very fine weather in Sarawak and in China.
My friend Meng Lei brought Professor Hiroshi to study the cemeteries of the Chinese on 11th March 2012 which happened to be the anniversary of the Earthquake in Japan.
One of the graves they visited was my Great Grandfather and Grandfather's "double grave".
The above photo taken by Meng Lei shows Prof Hiroshi taking a photo of my grandfather's tomb.
The professor noticed:
1. This tomb is unique in size - it is a double "faced" tomb or two in one (in fact it is a multiple tomb). One side is my Great Grandfather's who was buried with his wife. On my grandfather's lot - he had his own space. Next to him are the lots of my Second Grandmother (Wong) and my Third Grandmother (Siew). In case you might like to ask - My grandmother (Chong) predeceased my Great Grand Parents and my Grandfather. She was buried on a lovely hill opposite the MYM Cemetery. She was 38 only.
2. All words written on this special tomb were by Rev Yao Siew King - my grandfather's good friend and partner.Each tomb has 6 sets of Chinese phrases (Chen Yu) which denote the values of the Chinese. The words/phrases actually signify my grandfather's love for education.
3. The design is very Fujian of China and the coffin is placed above the land level.
4. To prevent damage this double tomb has a big fence with a small gate.
5. Mt grandfather's headstone has the names of his seven sons ONLY following the traditions of the Foochows. So this grave is very typical of Foochow graves. It is rare to find a grave where the daughters' names are inscribed also.
All Foochows in the past in Sibu would prepare their graves ahead of their own passing. In Foochow this is called "Chok Hung Chui". They would scout for a proper lot and decide on the design. So according to what I learn from some relatives my grandfather took time to design this tomb for his parents and for himself as a very far sighted act.
Having a grave constructed is a very serious matter and many taboos have to be followed so that the younger generation is blessed. And the best person to consult is the contractor who does the construction. He would have all the advice at his finger tips...Other elders' words should also be taken into consideration. The after life house in a way is as important as our own home.....
Decisions on maintenance and upkeep of ancestral tombs are made by the members of the male line only traditionally.
My great grandfather and my grand father's double grave is found in the Mee Yee Mee (or Methodist Episcopal Mission) Cemetery which is the oldest Methodist Cemetery in Sibu and the one nearest to Sungei Merah Bazaar.