The 3rd Day of the 5th Month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar
According to Chinese beliefs, the day on which a person departs from this world has to be remembered. The Christians has what is called the “All Souls Day”.
My late father passed away in 1987. Some 23 years ago. Each year, we mark my father’s death anniversary without fail.
Chinese especially, offer a variety of cooked food and dishes to their beloved who has passed away. Besides food and other delicious delicacies, we burn joss sticks, joss paper, paper clothing and even paper houses to the dead.
Marking the anniversary of my late father’s death became the responsibility of my mother after my father died. But when mum herself passed away in 1990, three years after my father’s death, the responsibility thus fell into my wife’s hands.
My wife, being one of the daughter-in-laws, has to take over responsibility of remembering my father’s death anniversary each year.
Each year as March and early April approaches, the Chinese throughout Malaysia, irrespective of whether one is a Hokkien, Cantonese, or Khek, we celebrate the Cheng Beng or “cleaning of the graves” ceremony without fail.
Families which have ancestral graves located in cemeteries all across the country will visit their fathers’, grandfathers’ or grandmothers’ ancestral graves to spruce it up.
To some Chinese, whose parents’ ancestral remains and ashes are placed in temples, will then visit these places to pray and offer cooked food there.
This year, my family members, which included myself and my family, my elder brother and his family, my sister, her children and her husband and not forgetting my younger brother and his family, all went to the Siamese Buddhist Chetawan temple in Petaling Jaya to carry out our religious rites of the cheng beng festival.
With the passing over or the end of the above cheng beng festival, my family will then celebrate the anniversary of my father’s death on the 3rd day of the 5th month according to the Chinese Lunar calendar.
For your information, although my late father’s remains and ashes were strewn into the vast ocean of the Malacca Straits in 1987, we nevertheless still mark his death anniversary every year.
One’s loved ones may have left this material world, but believe it or not, memories of our loved ones still remain.
As each cheng beng arrives, I’m unsure about you, but as far as I’m concerned, I will certainly have dreams of both my parents.
I’m not sure if I have told my immediate family, that is my wife and my own children, but I remember telling my elder brother, Boo Huat and his wife, that my my mum appeared in my dreams a week before the arrival of the cheng beng festival.
You may think it’s only a coincidence, but to me, it is a sign that I still think of my mother and father even though they might have passed away so many years ago.
To mark the anniversary of my father’s passing away on the 3rd day of the 5th month this year, my wife, who is still working and is attached to a transport company in Taiwan Village in Port Klang, has opted to take a day’s leave from work to prepare for it.
Why has my wife, Mary, chosen to do this?
Penang Hokkien, of which myself is part of, are very particular about such practices. Those who are in the same boat as myself, and I’m sure there are many among this blog’s readers, still adhere very strictly to such ancestral practices.
As I told you just earlier on, just recently, last week to be exact, the 1st week of cheng beng, the Yap family, that is my family, went to pray at both my father’s and mother’s ancestral resting places at the Chetawan temple in Petaling Jaya. We have in fact been performing this ritual without fail since our parents’ death.
I must relate to you of a Siamese aunty, whom we know since we were young. She incidentally hails from Kampung Martin, in Teluk Pulai, Klang. This aunt of ours has always reminded us over and over again to carry out our filial duties to our parents. Even though they might have passed away and are no longer with us today.
Unfortunately, our Siamese aunty, whom all of us lovingly call “Ah Yee” (or aunt in Hokkien), recently passed away at the ripe old age of 87. Although our aunt may no longer be with us today, nevertheless, we shall always remember her good advices she has given us all these years.
In memory of our Ah Yee, who passed away at her Eng Ann housing estate home in Klang, may the good Buddha bless her soul and take good care of her.
To mark the anniversary of my father’s death anniversary this year, what have we, as children, prepared for the occasion?
As usual, except for my sister, Molly, my elder brother and his wife and also my younger brother, Boo Keong will surely prepare special dishes at their homes to offer to my father’s spirit.
As for my family, my wife, who has specially taken a day’s leave from work, will prepare a few exotic dishes for this occasion.
Days before this special day, my wife had already made known to me her intentions regarding the dishes she would like to offer to my dad. As a good daughter-in-law to my dad, she has all these years done her duty faithfully and in a filial manner.
For this, I feel I owe her at least an expression of thanks and gratitude for all the sacrifices she has made all these years. Her care and concern is much appreciated!
What will we offer my dear beloved father on his death anniversary this year?
As she (my wife) is still a working person, and is thus always busy, our family will cook some simple dishes my father likes. We will also buy some ready cooked dishes too.
Whatever it is, amongst the dishes we shall be offering on this day, will be Klang’s delicious bak kut teh or pork ribs soup, chicken rice, mixed fried vegetables, curried chicken masak merah, and of course, my wife’s famous friend Hokkien mee.
There will be a few paus, big and small, which my father used to fancy eating while he was alive. Without a doubt, there will also be my dad’s favorite drink “black coffee” as well.
And I, as the second son, will also be getting my dad his usual pack of Benson and Hedges cigarettes to be placed on the family alter. You see, my father was a smoker before his death.
Usually, my sister, Molly, whom I have mentioned earlier in my other articles, is a very good cook herself, is unable to attend this year’s anniversary. So this year it looks as if my father’s spirit, at least, will not be able to taste her mouth watering Penang specialties such as sambal belacan, acar kerabu, tow yea bak (pork ribs) with tow kuah, sambal sotong pedas and many other assorted dishes which my father likes.
Maybe next year, dear father, I shall make it a point to insist that Molly attend the death anniversary of my dear beloved father and cook the dishes my father likes.
It is now nearly 7 o’clock in the morning. The sun is just rising outside my window. It’s now time to stop here, take a shave and have my early morning bath. I have to prepare going to the pasar pagi market soon, to get some chickens for the curry chicken.
Not forgetting also the bak kut teh, which I will purchase from the famous Ah Lek’s stall at Bamboo Grove in nearby Jalan Meru, Klang. And then also the choy sam and fish paste cake needed to fry the Hokkien mee, which we have decided to prepare today.
Looking forward ahead in a few hours time, to laying the table with delicious and mouth watering dishes at the family alter later today.
The 3rd day of the 5th month, my father’s death anniversary!
After the ceremony, as usual, I shall then adjourn to my elder brother’s house to join him for the usual roti canai rendezvous at the nearby mamak stall at 9 am.
Maybe, my brother and I will discuss about what his family has prepared for father on this occasion, his death anniversary day.