Keeping traditions alive at Bukit Brown for Qing Ming
Families make their way to what is left of Bukit Brown Cemetery for annual Qing Ming Festival
Most girls her age tend to shun chores such as sweeping, cleaning and weeding.
But not only does Soh Yi Wei, 10, look forward to it, she is also willing to wake up at dawn for it.
This is especially so during the annual Qing Ming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, which usually falls on April 4 or 5. Families visit their ancestors' tombs to clean them and to pay their respects.
Last Sunday, the Woodgrove Primary School pupil was at Bukit Brown Cemetery with her family to clean her great-grandfather's tomb.
"I like going there because I like doing the work," said the Primary 4 pupil, who helps her parents sweep the surrounding area of the tomb and clear the weeds.
Her father, Mr Nelson Soh, said that Yi Wei has been accompanying him on Qing Ming since she was two years old.
Mr Soh's family is joined by his three older brothers and their families.
"Since my father died in 2002, the four families have been visiting my grandfather's tomb every year," said Mr Soh, 48, a business developer.
"Before that, we followed my father only once in a while."
Apart from the actual tombsweeping, Yi Wei, along with her 12-year-old brother, Hong Ren, also help in the preparations by accompanying their father to buy supplies, such as joss paper, for the visit.
Mrs Shalie Ng, 47, has also been visiting Bukit Brown Cemetery with her husband, Mr Patrick Ng, every Qing Ming for more than 10 years.
PLAYING HER PART: Soh Yi Wei, 10, helping her family during the Qing Ming Festival last Sunday. TNP PHOTOS: PHYLLICIA WANG
Mr and Mrs Ng are accompanied by their three children, aged between 18 and 21, who help to sweep their great-grandfather's tomb.
"My children enjoy it as they find it interesting," Mrs Ng, a part-time clerk, told The New Paper.
"Most of their friends don't get to go to graveyards. They want to follow us because they find visits to cemeteries rare in Singapore today."
Bukit Brown has been seeing fewer visitors over the past few years as parts of it have been razed to make way for an eight-lane road being constructed through the cemetery to connect the MacRitchie Viaduct to the Adam Flyover. The project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
More than 3,700 graves in the affected area have been exhumed since Dec 17, 2013.
The graves of ancestors of the Soh and Ng families are not affected by the project.
Mrs Ng said: "I am thankful that we are not affected. This way, we can continue visiting my husband's grandfather's tomb every year.
"Bukit Brown is also a unique place with a rich culture, so I hope that by coming back every year, this Qing Ming spirit will be passed on to the next few generations."
Bukit Brown is also a unique place with a rich culture, so I hope that by coming back every year, this Qing Ming spirit will be passed on to the next few generations.
- Mrs Shalie Ng