Cheng Beng at Sam Poh Tong

Cheng Beng at Sam Poh Tong

If you’re following me on Twitter, you would’ve known that I was back in Ipoh for Cheng Beng festival with my family. The place we go to is always none other than Sam Poh Tong.

sam poh tong ipoh

In case you don’t know, during Cheng Beng, the Chinese people visit the graves or burial grounds of their ancestors.

Early in the morning, they pray before their ancestors – offering mainly food, drinks and gifts.

sam poh tong cheng beng

Even though it was early when we reached, there is already a huge crowd at Sam Poh Tong. Both young and old came together to offer their prayers.

If you want to see photos of Sam Poh Tong when there’s no festival, feel free to check out my entry on Intriguing Ipoh Cave Temples.

cheng beng food

Okay, I’m not sure whether it’s a common practice or not, but I think my dad buys food that my late grandparents like to eat. Some noodles, roasted chicken, buns and some fruits.

They’re usually accompanied with Chinese tea, wine and flowers.

cheng beng prayer

After that, we burn the joss sticks and place them onto the… erm… joss stick area?

chinese joss sticks

Imagine walking through an area covered with thick smoke due to the burning joss sticks. It could be a pain for the eye, smelly for the cloths – but that’s the way we do it.

The people will normal place 1 or 2 joss sticks onto each compartment. If you want to finish up your stack of joss sticks faster and get away from the smoky place, just put more. ;)

cheng beng joss sticks

Sometimes you may even get mild burns if you’re not careful, there are many burning joss sticks pointing out.

cheng beng prayer

If you have sweaty palms, here’s the tiny souvenir you’ll get…

red mark hand

Red marking! This is not my palm okay.

After that, we head to the site where the urns of my late grandparents are located – up the stairs!

sam poh tong stairs

Honestly, I never got the chance to know my late grandparents (dad’s side) well enough, as I was still very young when they passed away.

I can only remember the faces of grandpa and grandma from the photos with the urns. Dad would normally count the number of years they’ve passed away. Other than that, we pray for a while and head back down.

Here’s the outside view from inside the building.

cheng beng view

After that, we go back to the place where we put the food. Using 2 coins, one of us will “ask” the ancestors whether they’ve finished eating or not.

If the 2 coins lands on the ground and shows different surfaces, it means that they’re done eating.

cheng bend 2 coins

Then, we proceed to burning gifts for the departed. Traditionally, the family members will burn spirit money and paper replicas of material goods such as cars, homes, phones or even servants.

Some may even get paper iPhones and iPads for the ancestors!

cheng beng burn site

Anyway, it’s not an ideal place to stay long as the burning fire can be really hot.

But some stayed pretty long while waiting for their “gifts” to burn off. With long wooden sticks provided, family members move the gifts so that they turn completely into ashes.

cheng bend burn fire

Here’s what we got for our late grandparents – a brand new white car with number plate “MPV 8888” and 2 boxes of gold spirit money.

cheng beng paper car

Throw them off to the burning site.

cheng beng burn goods

And fire them up, “sending” it to the other side.

cheng beng burning

I may not be a religious person, but I wish my late grandparents will be happy with what we’ve given them.

Well, we’ll definitely come back again next year.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned! :)



16 thoughts on “Cheng Beng at Sam Poh Tong

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I just wonder why we still need to pray for our ancestors and burn things for them when they possibly already have reincarnated back to the world after so many years? Just curious to know.

  2. Oh I been there before too! It’s the my great grandmother from my mom’s side rest. Well, I like the surrounding though. Peaceful when there’s not so much a crowd. Penang cheng beng was like… A mountain + lots of cemeteries + hot blazing sun + loads of people fighting for oxygen + firecrackers! I even saw one with the radio on with 988 when they cheng beng. Maybe their ancestors was fans of 988? XD

  3. No wonder today many makan shops were not opened.. and the town seemed to be very crowded too.. yes, like STP, we observed in November 2nd..

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