qing ming jie

Last Monday was Qing Ming Jie (清明節), known in English as Tomb Sweeping Day.  If I am remembering correctly, it is the only holiday in Taiwan that is not based on the lunar calendar–here it is observed every April 5th.  But the Wu family observes this holiday a week early.  It was my first time to see a family as they worshiped their ancestors at their tombs.
We woke up early and were on the road before 7 AM on Sunday, March 28th.  About an hour later, we arrived at the temple that houses the urns of Lawrance’s paternal grandparents.
Worshiping Ancestors
__It was already quite busy with other families worshiping.

__While waiting for the rest of the family to arrive, I snapped a few photos.  This is a tree that is worshiped right outside the temple.
Worshiping Ancestors
__Families would start by placing their offerings on the altar.
Worshiping Ancestors
__Then they would light incense–making sure everyone had at least three.  First, they would bow facing away from the temple–this would be to the worship the “god of heaven.” This here is a photo of our family worshiping.
Worshiping Ancestors
__Here is what worship to gods and ancestors looks like in Taiwan. This is called “bai bai.”

__Next, they would move to the inside incense holder in front of the “main god” of the temple to worship. This might also be one of the only times an entire family worships together. Corporate worship is not commonplace in Taiwan.

Worshiping Ancestors
__Then they would move on to the side rooms and/or the back rooms depending on how many sticks of incense they were holding. The back rooms house other idols.

Worshiping Ancestors
__Since it was the proper time to be worshiping ancestors, the rooms where the urns were kept were actually off limits because there would be too many people present.  So, the side rooms served as another location to leave offerings to ancestors.

Worshiping Ancestors
__After everyone in the family had deposited their incense, we waited a few more minutes and then Lawrance’s dad declared it had been enough time, and everyone went back to retrieve the paper money they’d brought to burn and the offerings, this time namely fruit.

Worshiping Ancestors
__Then we headed over to an open pit for them to burn the paper money.
Worshiping Ancestors
__Here Lawrance explains some of what we were seeing:

__In this video, he explains one of the papers that was being burned to the ancestors:

__After all the paper money that our family had brought was burned, we return to Lawrance’s dad’s car and drove about 10 minutes to the home where his dad was raised. But, getting out of the parking lot proved interesting. The photo below was taken from inside L’s dad’s van . . . yeah, it was just a tad crowded at the temple that day.  What you can’t see is that there are cars parked on both sides of the road–the woman in red got of the red car to help her husband . . . AND we both (our car and their car) and MORE cars lined up behind us.  It was one of those surreal “only in Taiwan” moments for me.

__I plan to show photos from the rest of the day, which includes how the Wu family worshiped the 9 generations before grandma and grandpa, as well as reflect on some of the implications a holiday like this has on Christian believers later this week in other blog posts.

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