Indonesia

Finding Ancestors

April 18, 2016
Looking over my great grandparents mountain

On my second day of Qingming Festival, it was the day where I met my ancestors. Well, technically I didn’t meet them in real life. Does visiting their graveyard count as meeting them?

View of paddy field

As usual, it was a typical hot day in Indonesia and the sun shines extra brightly till it felt like my cheeks were slapped with their beam. This time we visited my great-grandfather and his second wife (so it’s my step great-grandmother) from my father side and my great-grandparents from my grandmother side. Just how complicated my family tree is.

Sukun tree

My great grandfather from my father side grave is located in Genteng (Banyuwangi Regency) it was quite a ride from Jember to Genteng, about two hours. The graveyard is packed with many gravesite and it’s hard to walk with the condition of the graveyard. All the tombs are mostly written in Mandarin and the reason for that is because they have Chinese ancestry. Or maybe they got married with Chinese. But these days, I don’t think people still write it in Mandarin, I don’t even think all Indonesian with Chinese ancestry can speak Mandarin.

One of the grave tomb

The people who live nearby the graveyard are the people who take care of it. Once we arrived in the graveyard, usually they know who are we (probably because my uncle visits a lot) and they will show the way to the grave and clean the wild plants. Then my family start the ‘ritual’ by praying to our ancestor with the incense, putting the incense in front of the tomb or in the grave, and then strew the flower on the soil part. The villager who take care of my great-grandfather’s grave usually are very happy during Qingming Festival because they will earn money from the children or grand children who visit their parents or grandparents graves. And it is once a year kind of thing. (LOL thanks dad for the super overexposure of my picture with the villagers)

IncenseMourning my step great grandmotherMourningWith the people who take care of my great grandpaPedicab

Moving on, it’s time to visit my great-grandparents from my grandmother side. So it’s like my father’s mother’s parents. Since it was a long, long drive from Genteng to Besuki (great-grandparents graveyard location), we decided to stop over in a middle of somewhere where a villager sells durian, the king of fruit. I personally despise the smell of durian because it makes me dizzy. My cousin, parents, uncles, and aunts were head over heels with that fruit and ate plenty of it. Durian actually is not good if you eat it too much especially for older people because they are high on cholesterol. So it was kinda like their (my parents, uncles, aunts) time for excuse and keep saying it’s only once-a-year thing.

Delicious DurianKing of FruitDurian Vendor

I thought my parents and my relatives were joking when they say it is located in a mountain. Surprisingly, it is located in a mountain. Although it’s a small mountain, it was quite a walk to go up there. My legs were bitten by hungry mosquitoes and stabbed by thorn from wild bushes, but the view all the way from the bottom to the top of the mountain was breathtaking.

Nature TunnelDaylightBridgeTree and skyNature and blue sky

When finally we reached the gravesite, we did the usual thing. Praying with incense and strew flowers again towards my great-grandparents grave once we arrived there. There used to be a view of the beach and the sea from the grave but the trees are growing and deter for me to see the view. The grave looks not well-maintained because it is not maintained. Only once a year. It is sad to see it but the access to the grave is also making it hardly possible.

Great grandparents graveView from my great grandparents graveyardLooking over the paddy fieldWild flower close-upWalking alonePaddy field

All the way on our ride from Jember to Genteng to Besuki, I tried to get to know more about my ancestors. Being presence on their graves doesn’t makes me feel like I know them but through my father, uncles and aunts stories about them that makes me feel like I’m familiar and related to them.

Me and random boy

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