The Chinese celebrated the Qingming festival (pronounced as Ching Ming) or Tomb-Sweeping Day last Friday (05) paying homage to the dead.
The Qingming Festival was originated from the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) to commemorate a loyal official called Jie Zitui. He saved his emperor by cutting a piece of meat from his own leg during his exile time. After the emperor returned to the country 19 years later, he forgot Jie Zitui. Reminding by other officials, the emperor realized his mistake and tried to find Jie. However, Jie lived in seclusion with his mother in the mountain. The emperor set fire to the mountain to smoke Jie out under the suggestion of some officials. At last, Jie and his mother were dead under a willow tree. The regret emperor ordered the day that Jie died to be Hanshi (Cold Food) Festival to commemorate him. On that day, no fire was allowed and only cold food can be eaten. The second year after Jie died, the emperor went to the mountain to sacrifice him and found the dead willow where Jie died besides revived. So, he gave the willow the name of ‘Qingming Willow’ and set the day after Hanshi Festival to be Qingming Festival. Gradually, the two festivals combined into the present Qingming Festival.
Today, the Han Chinese celebrate this festival, commemorating their ancestors and spending the day together with their families.
A Willow Culture festival coinciding with the Qingming festival was celebrated at the Willow Park in Beijing on April 05. The celebration, which showcased dances and cultural observances, was attended by many members of the local community who donned willow wreaths for the occasion while some donned traditional Chinese attire known as ‘Hanfu’.
A calligraphy demonstration, dances, singing, poetry and traditional clothing or ‘Hanfu' were showcased while a 'Fu Xi’ ceremony was conducted by dipping willow branches in water to ward of evil spirits as well as a willow planting ceremony.
The following are a few highlights of the event.
(Pics / Video : Shanika Jayasekara - reporting from Beijing)