It’s that time of the year. Qingming Festival, where people go to their ancestors grave to pray for them. This tradition originated from China where Chinese people pay respect and honoring their ancestors.
It is not an official holiday in Indonesia, but Qingming Festival is definitely a must-do annually, especially for Chinese. My grandfather and great grandparents graves are located in East Java, which means I have to fly all the way from Jakarta to the far east of Java. I flew from Jakarta in the early morning to Jember, East Java by Garuda Indonesia. It was also my first time flew with a smaller aircraft than usual, since it was a domestic flight. With a total almost four hours (including the transit in Surabaya), I finally arrived in Jember, my father’s hometown, and also where my grandfather is buried.
Once my family and I arrived in Jember (the name of the city in East Java), we checked in to the hotel to put our luggages first. We stayed in Aston Hotel Jember, because it happens to be the only decent hotel in Jember. Note in mind that Jember is small city where it’s also a semi-village.
After we bought flowers to strew it in the grave, we went to the first stop of grave visit, my grandfather from my father side. I actually never meet him before. He died when I wasn’t even born yet. As we travel all the way to our ancestors’ grave to pay respect, we have to clean their gravesite. Just like removing the wild grass, weeds, etc. After the gravesite is agreeable, we put joss stick / incense stick on the gatekeeper (for the God of Earth to open the way so our ancestors can hear our prayer) by the grave and pray for them. And then we strewed flowers over the grave. There are more things as I read on the Internet, such as burning paper money (not real money), offering food and fruits, planting willow trees, or picnic by the grave. However, my family don’t do any of that. I actually don’t know why we just put the joss stick and flowers, but I do think it’s enough to pay some respects to our ancestors.
This is only my second Qingming Festival but the first proper one. My first time was two years ago where I didn’t even visit to all my ancestors graves. Probably it is also because I was only with my dad, uncle and aunt at that time. For this second time, I got my five aunts, 3 uncles and a cousin of mine and do the Qingming Festival together. The more the merrier right? It was also mind-blowing just how big my family (typical Chinese family) and found out people that somehow blood-related to me but I never know them. I also visited the Muslim graveyard in order to pay respect to my grandmother’s brother, who became Muslim when he was alive.
During the visit to graveyards, strangely I felt peaceful. It was goddamn hot and humid, but I felt the tranquil atmosphere. Maybe that’s why they call it Rest in Peace.