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Tomb-Sweeping In 2021 (Still) Hitting The Wall Of Epidemic



  March 31, 2021

In a bid to stem the spread of Covid-19, Movement Control Order (MCO) has remained in effect for more than a year since 18 March 2020.


Qing Ming Festival- or Tomb Sweeping Day which falls on the 4th of April this year is bound to be affected by implications caused by the virus.


A Very Special Tomb-Sweeping Festival in 2021


This year, Qing Ming Festival will take on a sombre tone.


As observing the tradition calls for families to gather to clean gravesites, pray to deceased family members and make ritual offerings by burning incense and joss paper- all of which require close contact, stringent interstate travel restrictions and SOP’s are in place to guarantee civilians’ safety and provide crowd control measures.


Meanwhile, certain respective associations have directly decided against Qing Ming events and determined the forced closure of cemeteries. (Depending on local associations)


Families separated from one another will not be permitted to travel, reunite and commemorate their ancestors by tomb-sweeping together in a close-contact setting cemetery.


Given that the restrictions are intact for the purpose of crowd control, are there any alternatives that can allow people to fulfil their traditional obligations without much human contact at all?


In fact, stemmed from the new virtual-everything norm, can we use technology to offer our prayers to dead ancestors and execute our obligations of commemorating them?


Going Virtual


Looking at our neighbouring countries that practice the same tradition, China for one launched an online “cloud tomb-sweeping” service through ‘WeChat’ in the previous year of 2020.


Despite the fact that all walks of life are slowly returning to normal, it is still absolutely essential to avoid large-scale and close contact gatherings- all for the sake of curbing the damage inflicted on the world by the novel Covid-19 outbreak.


A virtual Qing Ming could definitely be something that is doable in Malaysia, judging from the fact that many families are driven by the obligation to commemorate their ancestors while wanting to avoid coming into unnecessary contact with others in the cemetery. It could very well be the solution for those stuck on two opposite sides of the country to play their parts in fulfilling their obligations to ‘visit’ their ancestors.


By utilising the convenience that technology offers, the public’s demand will be satisfied while crowd control measures are no longer a necessity in fear of close contact ceremonies involving large gatherings of people. In actuality, moving things online would mark the reduction of not environmental-friendly ceremonies such as open burning- while successfully promoting a greener culture in the country. 


What do you think? Moving things toward a virtual direction, proceeding with physical tomb-sweeping as usual or completely skipping out on this year?


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