While this ritual dates back more than 2,500 years, question is : is this practice still relevant for a modern day person?

Qingming has been observed by Chinese communities all over the world – from China to Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. And while the actual practice in observing this festival differ from region to region, and has changed over the years, it remains an important Confucian practice as family plays a central part in many Asian cultures.

QingMing Festival – or Tomb-Sweeping Day in English (also known as Ancestors’ Day) – falls on the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, usually between 3 to 6 April of each year.

Each year, families faithfully flock to the final resting places of their ancestors – be it at graveyards or columbaria, to pull up overgrown weeds, clean and repair tombstones of their ancestors. Traditional offerings such as burning of joss paper are also made.

The practice of making an offering during QingMing is based on the belief that deceased family members have the power to influence the fortune of those living, and have the ability to watch and bless over living family members with good wealth and health. Objects used as offerings – from joss paper to flowers to food – are believed to increase in value and serve as payment of spiritual, mystical or celestial debts for the deceased. It is believed that no one, while alive, completely pays off all their karmic debts entirely. So the practice of making offerings on behalf of our ancestors is to provide our ancestors with a means to pay the remainder of their debts, so that they can continue on their karmic journey in the afterlife.

We, the living family members, pay respect and homage to our ancestors on QingMing by honoring the fact that our ancestors are the ones who brought us into this world and into their family lineage. Having raised us, nourished us and us benefited from their lifetime work and legacy left behind for us, our act of making offerings during QingMing to pay back their spiritual debts is a way of us fulfilling our filial duty and gains us and our family good karma in the long run. As the act of visiting our ancestor’s graves during QingMing is usually done with our families, we also deepen kinship values, family loyalty and continuity of the family lineage among the living during QingMing.

Part of its origin into a fixed date in China came from the increase in number and occurrence of extravagant ceremonies held by emperors and wealthy officials when they wished to to beseech their ancestors to bless them and the country with good harvests and peace. Another contributing factor to practices observed during QingMing in China can be traced back to the historical legend of Duke Wen of Jin (prince in exile named Chong’er) and loyal defender, Jie Zitui. While Chinese scholars argue over the authenticity of the details of the actual events, these historical factors continue to influence the actual observance of QingMing by devotees in modern day time.

It is interesting to note that the term, 清明 – literally means clear and bright. Many believe this term makes reference to the clear and bright spring as opposed to the cold and dark winter. In Central China, by early April each year, the weather is noticeably warmer and brighter, and there is significantly more green outdoors. People also start to wear lighter clothes. Hence it is no surprise that QingMing is also associated with a myriad of other practices, including a family day out to enjoy springtime fresh blooms, kite-flying and so on. Metaphorically-speaking, we can also say that by honoring our ancestors on QingMing, we are illuminating our inter-generational familial lines, hence the term, 清明 is an apt description of what goes on.

Controversy of Burning Offerings

Despite the strong reasons and benefits to observe QingMing, the controversy of burning offerings remain strong. In certain countries / cities, citing safety and environmental concerns, there has been bans and/or limitations to excessive burning of offerings, resulting in adaptations to offerings by QingMing observers all over the world.

To this end, Exoterica Creations offers a simple solution : become more effective about the offerings we make! Our unique blend of Karmic Debt Incense is created to help you pay for things owed in this lifetime. Formulated to address Karmic Debts owed from past and present lives, Exoterica Creation’s Karmic Debt Incense addresses trespasses, hurt or harm in general that may have been incurred by the person making the offering to those who continue to hold a grudge or upset regardless of where they may now be.

Made from a mix of offering-type ingredients such as resins, wood powders, fragrant gums, herbs and spices sourced from Nepal and China, Exoterica Creations’ Karmic Debt incense can help you reduce the total amount of burnt offerings to be made at one go, making your offering time more focused on staying present to what is going on as you make your offering as opposed to being busy with burning numerous items.

Karmic Debt Incense series:

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Exoterica Creations’ Karmic Debt Incense Range

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