Ching Ming Festival gets mixed sentiments from Sibu residents

Sibu's iconic landmark — the swan statue by the Rajang River.

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SIBU, March 5: Residents here are split in their opinion on Ching Ming Festival which falls on April 4.

One side said the authority should not prohibit this annual festival again like last year. The other side said it is better to forgo it for the second time as the Covid-19 situation has not abated yet.

A restaurant operator, Pang Chui Hua said the festival is like a reunion dinner which should not be missed again.

“During Ching Ming, if you say there should not be any procession that’s acceptable but to tell us that we cannot even go to the graveyard is not right,” he said.

Pang said nobody goes to the graveyard to mingle around but to pay respect to their ancestors or loved ones.

A fitness instructor, Lau commented that Ching Ming Festival is the most important event that supersedes the Chinese New Year celebration.

“Ching Ming festival is the biggest celebration in Sibu other than Chinese New Year celebration. We can accept not doing house visits during CNY but not Ching Ming Festival,” he enthused.

Lau said it would be unreasonable if the authority wanted to prohibit it again.

“The authority instead of stopping the festival can set a strict SOP for people to comply like limiting the number of people at the graveyard at one time, the compulsory wearing of face masks and police permit,” he  proposed.

A retiree, Marcus Tan however think otherwise.

“We prefer not to celebrate the festival by going to the graveyard. We can do prayers for our departed loved ones at home,” he said.

Tan reckoned that it was still not advisable to go to the graveyard as one can contract the disease easily.

“Last week one of my neighbours died  of Covid-19. This reminds me that we should not ‘play play’ as the disease is still in our midst,” he said.

A businessman, John Goh concurred with Tan.

“With just about a month to go for the festival, I don’t think there will be a great improvement in the situation here in such a short time. I had advised friends not to celebrate the festival even when we are allowed by the authorities, simply because it is better to play safe than be sorry later,” he said.

Goh said there is no mention in the Chinese culture that the community must pay their respect to their loved ones and ancestors only on Ching Ming day.

“We can do it anytime other than during the Ching Ming. I have even told my son who is working in Kuala Lumpur not to fly home to visit the graveyard of his grandpa,” he added.

On March 3 during a Sibu Municipal Council Facebook livestream session, Nangka assemblyman Dr Annuar Rapaee said residents might not be able to celebrate this 2,500-year-old festival again this year as the Covid situation is still serious. — DayakDaily