Qingming 2014 – 清明节 2014

Article by :  SPI Yasser

Qingming 2014 falls on Saturday, 5 April 2014.  Due to different traditions in different places, some celebrate the Tomb Sweeping on the Qing Ming day itself, while for some Chinese, the date for celebration depends on family decision, any day from 21 March 2014 to 5 April 2014 is allowed.


Introduction:

Qingming means Clear and Bright and refers to the clear and sunny spring weather that comes around this time. It is traditionally a time for family descendents to tend to the graves of their departed ancestors and to make offerings of food, incense, and paper offerings such as spirit money and paper replicas of material goods.

Temples, both Buddhist and Taoist, also perform ceremonies at this time to dedicate spiritual merit to the deceased ancestors of sponsors. Families take this opportunity to clean and inspect the gravesite by removing any weeds or trash, pruning and replacing any nearby trees and plants if necessary, and looking to see if any damage to the tombstone needs repair. The upkeep and maintenance of the gravesite is considered an important responsibility of family descendents and reflects the deep cultural values of ancestor veneration and filial piety of the Chinese people. Thus, this day is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day (掃墓日 Saomu Ri), and some people in the West describe it as “Ancestors Day,” “Chinese Memorial Day,” or “Spring Remembrance Day.”

Qingming Festival is celebrated by people of Chinese ancestry in countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, China and Vietnam. Some people carry willow branches with them on Qingming, or put willow branches on their gates and/or front doors. They believed that willow branches help ward off lost and mischievous souls that wander around on Qingming.

Other practices during Qingming that are not that common in Singapore but are common elsewhere, include family outings, family get-togethers, clan feats, starting spring plowing, singing, dancing, starting courting between young people, and flying kites in the shapes of animals or characters from Chinese opera.


History:

Historically, Qingming originated from Hanshi Day, a memorial day for Jie Zitui where only cold food is eaten. Jie Zitui ( c636 BC) was one of many followers of Duke Wen of Jin. Once, during Wen’s 19 years of exile, they had no food and Jie prepared some meat soup for Wen. Wen enjoyed it a lot and wondered where Jie had obtained the soup. It turned out Jie had cut a piece of meat from his own thigh to make the soup.

In c732 BC, Emperor Xuanzong of China sought to curb the practice of extravagant and ostentatiously expensive ceremonies in honor of their ancestors, and declared that respects could be formally paid at ancestors’ graves only on Qingming.

Practice:

The Qingming Festival in Malaysia and Singapore normally starts early in the morning (in the 10 days preceding and succeeding Qingming Day) by paying respect to distant ancestors from China at home altars. This is followed by visiting the graves of their close relatives.

The ritual starts with praying to the Earth God and offering him some food to eat. The next step would be to offer prayers and food to their dear departed. Families would then ask for worldly wishes from the dear departed. It is believed that ancestors will protect their descendants from the other world, and as such will try to grant the wishes of the living. Finally, families will burn paper money as offerings to their dear departed. It is believed that the departed need money and other material possessions in the afterlife too. It is for this very reason that paper iPads, houses, cars and such are burnt during Seventh Month (and sometimes on Qingming).

 

A cartoon depicting ancestor veneration rites at a grave site(Image: Source unknown)

A cartoon depicting a family pruning the grass surrounding the grave of their ancestor (Image: Source unknown)

Paranormal Observations:

On Qingming, some report seeing their departed returning to Earth. Some others report being touched and disturbed in other ways by lost souls. Lost souls are deceased who do not receive prayers from their descendants and as such wander around creating mischief. However, reports of these paranormal activities are few and far between. Such reports are more common during the Seventh Month, also known as the Hungry Ghost Month.

One paranormal issue of contention during Qingming is whether or not families should bring back the food that was offered to their ancestors to eat later at home. While many families do so, some believe that this food is not supposed to be consumed by the living. The deceased are of “Yin” energy while the living are “Yang” energy. When food are offered to “Yin” entities their energy are transferred to the food which indirectly when the living consumes it they also take in the “Yin” energy. A living person who ingests the “Yin” energy of the dead might feel agitated, drained, exhausted or encounter some obstacles in life.

This logic follows from the practice of NOT eating food which is offered to ghosts or spirits during the Seventh Month. As a corollary, it is argued, food offered to ancestors should also not be eaten.

Conclusion:

Qingming is an integral part of Chinese societies worldwide. It is a day of remembrance of dear departed, and a day of reflection for the living. Paranormal activities are not widely a feature of this day, as compared to the more “fertile” Seventh Month.

Adam Park heritage walk on 8 Feb 2014

By SPI Yasser Mattar and SPI Kweh Ting Ting

Adam Park was the site of heavy fighting between defending British and invading Japanese forces in February 1942. Several paranormal experiences have been recorded there. This short write up serves to provide brief notes on the layout, history and paranormal reports of Adam Park.

Layout of Adam Park

Adam Park is located near to Adam Road hawker centre along Adam Road. The houses there were built c 1929. An aerial view of the area shows us that the area is laid out on a hill in an almost spiral formation. That formation made it a geographically advantageous fortress from which the British forces could defend against the invading Japanese forces.

Source: Google Maps

History of Adam Park

There were two notable buildings of interest in Adam Park. Number 17 Adam Park was formerly used as a hospital. It was once burnt down during a ceasefire between British and Japanese combatants.

Source: Yasser Mattar

Another building was formerly used as a chapel for the Prisoners of War, but the specific location of that building is unclear. This chapel looks very similar to the chapel at the Changi POW camp, through the sketches of a POW at that time. The picture below is of the Changi chapel.

Source: http://bontakstravels.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/img_3832changichapelsm.jpg

Paranormal Reports

At least one group of tenants within the past 5 years at Number 17 reported hearing parties, including laughter and glasses clinking on their premises in the middle of the night. These coincided with accounts of the merriment that occurred in the hospital, where parties were frequently held, with whiskey being supplied by the officers’ mess from across Adam Road.

The current tenant at Number 10 reported that when she moved in to the house 3 years ago, she had engaged the help of a fengshui master to put the chi of her house in order. The fengshui master suggested that she should allocate the room at the far end of the 2nd level of the house as her child’s room, as that was the room that has been thoroughly “blessed”. This suggests that Number 10 might have been used as to house the chapel, and that very room described was indeed the old chapel in question.

More information can be found here:

http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/humanities/research/archaeologyresearch/battlefieldarchaeology/centreprojects/singaporewwiiproject/

https://www.facebook.com/AdamParkProject

(Yellow Tower) Amber Beacon. East Coast Park, Singapore


The story of sightings at Amber Beacon in East Coast Park has been a long-standing folktale in urban Singapore.

Amber Beacon is located near Carpark C in East Coast, close to Singa Inn Restaurant and Parkland Golf Driving Range. It is an unmanned beacon, which still functions to direct ships on the Eastern seaboard of Singapore.

The public is allowed access up the staircase of the tower into a small “gallery” (in maritime language) at the top.


Legend has it that on random nights, passers-by and visitors to the area see an apparition at the top of the staircase on Amber Beacon, or hear cries coming from the gallery at the top of the beacon. The story that has been hitherto circulating is that a young lady was gang raped and murdered at the top of the tower.

After much research, the Singapore Paranormal Investigators discovered some leads on the case:

1.       The incident occurred in 1990

2.       The girl involved in the case was 21 year old Kelly Tan Ah Hong

3.       She was attacked at the staircase (not the gallery) in Amber Beacon

4.       She was on a date with ex-schoolmate James Soh Fook Leong

5.       She died soon after the attack, while Mr Soh survived

6.      * There was no evidence of rape  (See newspaper article below)

There are however, still some unknowns about the case:

1.       The motive of the attack is unclear. The attackers did pass by Ms Tan and Mr Soh prior to the latter’s ascend up the tower steps, and returned to stab them with sharp objects, presumably knives

2.       It is unclear as to whether the attackers are still at large, even 24 years later

3.       Evidence of EMF and EVP has not been collected

Reference materials:



 

Contributed By  :
Mohd Ariffin (Chief Paranormal Investigator, SPI)
Yasser Mattar (SPI Editor)


‘Devil baby’ goes on New York rampage

A demonic infant in a pram has been terrorizing people in the streets of America’s largest city.

Unsuspecting pedestrians reported being accosted by a screaming devil child in a self-propelled pram during a bizarre stunt in the Big Apple this week. Terrified victims of the prank ran screaming as the demonic infant rolled up and jumped out at them while letting out a horrifying wail.

Unsurprisingly, it turned out that the devil baby was in fact a clever promotional stunt for the upcoming movie “Devil’s Due.” A team of special effects experts built the remote-controlled stroller and animatronic infant which required three people to operate.

“People were totally cool with being in the video after getting the living hell scared out of them,” said Thinkmodo co-founder Michael Krivicka. “Each reaction ended with a laughter and everyone loved the look of the baby.”

The movie itself is due for release on January 17th.

Iran news agency claims ‘US is run by aliens’


The strange report claims that the US is run by aliens. Image Credit: Susan Sterner

A bizarre news report from Iran’s Fars News Agency has claimed that America is run by extraterrestrials.

Fars, which describes itself as “Iran’s leading independent news agency”, is no stranger to controversy. In a new report published over the weekend, the agency has claimed that NSA documents released by Edward Snowden and analyzed by Russian intelligence services have proved that America’s political policies are driven by an “alien/extraterrestrial intelligence agenda”.

The report also claims that the recent NSA surveillance controversy is centered around an attempt to cover up these facts and that the US is run by two governments, “the one that was elected, and the other, secret regime, governing in the dark”.

The story even goes on to claim that these same aliens assisted the Nazis with the construction of its submarines in the 1930s, then had secret meetings with President Eisenhower in 1954 from which the secret regime was established. It also claims that the extraterrestrial visitors have been working with the US Air Force in Nevada, presumably at the secretive Area 51 base at Groom Lake.

The story has been gaining widespread attention since appearing online, with global news outlets reporting on the bizarre claims and people’s reactions to them. Why such a prominent news agency would publish an article like this on a factual basis however, especially when it appears to have been sourced from a controversial conspiracy website, remains somewhat perplexing.

Expedition to St John’s and Lazarus Island (21 Dec 13)

On 21 December 2013, the Singapore Paranormal Investigators, led by Chua Chee Chay and Kweh Ting Ting, organised an expedition to St John’s and Lazarus Islands.

The expedition was for the purposes of having a BBQ on the St John’s Island, as well as to have a spooky tour of some notable hotspots on St John’s and Lazarus. This was not a formal investigation though, as this was not commissioned as such. Furthermore, no equipments for the recording of EMF, EVP or other paranormal phenomena were brought along.

Photos courtesy of Anna Ng.

The event began by taking the last ferry out from Marina South Pier on to St John’s Island on that Saturday evening. We then had a brief walkabout of the 3 major spots that we were interested in observing further later that night, followed by a lovely BBQ dinner.

At 12 midnight on 21 December, we started our spooky tour. We first went to visit the infamous human chessboard, where legend has it that Japanese colonial officers would play against each other using POWs as chess pieces. Any chesspiece that is “knocked down” by an advancing chess piece from the opponent would be beheaded. We each took turns to stand in the dead centre of the chessboard for 5 minutes, and we would try to feel for anything sensory that could explain the presence of paranormal phenomena. Most of us did not feel anything significant, save for some slight pushes forward and issues with balance.

We moved on to the next station, which was an abandoned house at the top of a hill. Now, this house has been abandoned for years. Prior SPI expeditions have not seen anyone in that house, but there are nonetheless signs that someone might be there. We saw three shirts hanging on the window, and new airconditioning compressors, but there was no other human activity.

Prior SPI expeditions also have noted significant paranormal activity there, and we wanted to see if we can replicate those findings. We took turns in groups of 2 to stand in front of the house to see if we could observe anything through the windows. Observe we did not, but we did hear dull noises coming from inside the house. It sounded like thumps to some, footsteps to others and like furniture being dragged to others. We only managed to send 2 pairs to observe at this particular hotspot, because some of the other team members who were waiting by the side were feeling physically uneasy. We took that to be our cue to leave. Later on, we would discuss this, and a very pertinent overall feeling is that that hotspot has remnants of a very sad past. There are energies there that suggest as such to us.

We moved to the next station which was a very small house with an annexed kitchen. There was an handprint on the kitchen wall, presumably of oil-based paint, but that handprint looks as fresh in 2013 as it did in 2009, when a member of the team visited that hotspot. Some of us, who were not feeling well as a result of the previous hotspot sat this one out, while the others made their observations. There was a strong feeling of energy presence at this hotspot. Some of the team members even reported a malevolent presence.


Our last trip was over the bridge onto Lazarus Island. Reports have suggested that people have heard screams coming from where the old Malay kampungs used to be on Lazarus. We, however, did not manage to observe anything on Lazarus.

We checked out of St John’s Island the very next day by the first ferry. All in all, we think that the house on the hill and the house with the handprint is deserving of further research.

 

Contributed by
Yasser Mattar

 

 

Media interviewed (Going Places) of our SPI, Chief of Spiritual, Cultural Beliefs Research and Gadget Department), Mr Kenneth Jee

 

 

Media interviewed (Going Places) of our SPI, Chief Paranormal Investigator ( Spiritual, Cultural Beliefs Research and Gadget Department), Mr Kenneth Jee

Source :

http://www.goingplacessingapore.sg/project/2013/ParanormalConnections.aspx

 

Paranormal connections

Even among Singapore’s planned and compact landscape, pockets of abandoned buildings and places remain. Paranormal investigators give their take on why they still exist.

By Cassandra Yeap     |     12 Nov 2013

 

Paranormal investigator Benjamin Teo used to be scared of ghosts. A visit by what appeared to be his dead great grandmother when he was in primary school, left him with the creeps.

 

But years on, his job as a social worker challenged him to act on advice he often gave the youths he counselled – and to confront his fears.

 

“The more I researched, and with more information, I began to feel differently towards [ghosts]. And that’s when I started to explore to see if I could conquer my fears by going to these places,” he said.

 

Old, isolated and empty places beckon Benjamin. Despite Singapore’s small land area, pockets of untouched properties and swathes of deserted land remain – sometimes inexplicably so. Paranormal investigators like him seek to understand why.

 

According to Benjamin, 34, founder of Ghost Club SG, buildings may be abandoned because they were repossessed or the subject of a property dispute. But occasionally, darker phenomena are at work.

 

“A tragic event could have happened there, and sometimes people don’t want to buy it because of its history. It could also be that certain things that happened there, created situations such that people who stay there, don’t stay there for long.

 

“It could really be some paranormal incidents.”

 

Flagging the supernatural
Benjamin encountered one such incident five years ago at Kent Ridge Park’s parade square, the one-time stomping ground of British soldiers. Arriving after sundown, the daytime serenity of the park had turned to a silence that seemed especially sinister.

 

“That night when we went we could really feel that there was something different, it was especially dark,” he said. Intrigued, he and his club members began a thorough sweep of the area, eventually zeroing in on the parade square’s three flag poles, long disused. A persistent clanging sound abruptly started and went on for a few minutes – the middle pole’s pulley system hitting repeatedly against the pole.

 

There were no animals or birds nearby, and no wind to disturb the pulley, said Benjamin. Meanwhile, the ropes of the two flanking poles did not budge.

 

“We didn’t know what it was. At the end of the day, we deemed it as inconclusive, as an unexplainable thing,” said Benjamin. “That remains a mystery till today.”

 

Fatal attraction
Chief Paranormal Investigator with the Singapore Paranormal Investigators (SPI) Kenneth Jee, 37, believes the histories of abandoned buildings are what draw paranormal activity.

 

“For example, old buildings which had ‘bad happenings’ in them, hospitals with a lot of deaths, and massacre sites,” he said.

 

The fact that the building is abandoned also further draws unnatural presences.

 

“[Ghosts are] just like humans, we don’t like to be disturbed.”

 

Agreeing, Benjamin said conflicting auras make places that are devoid of people, a welcoming place for ghosts.

 

“People actually give off the yang qi, or positive energy, so places that have many people – usually ghosts will not want to be there because they’re considered the yin qi (negative energy), so there’s a clash, he said.

 

Investigators typically use a range of instruments to capture evidence of supernatural activity. These include sensors that measure electromagnetic fields, voice recorders to capture white noise or sounds of lower frequency known as Electric Voice Phenomena, and night vision cameras.

 

Kenneth, who also heads SPI’s Spiritual, Cultural Beliefs Research and Gadget Department, said the group usually brings five or more pieces of equipment, and assesses the likelihood of a haunting based on how many register positive readings.

 

Always spooky
But in Singapore’s fast-changing landscape, even buildings thought by investigators to likely be haunted, are not left untouched for long.

 

Often, signs that forbid trespassing or that mark buildings as state property spring up overnight, said Kenneth, leaving fewer and fewer places for his group to explore.

 

Nonetheless, developing or renovating a building has little effect on its supernatural visitors.

 

“If there is really a haunting there, whether it’s developed or whether there’s a new building, the energies will still remain. These energies do not change when the physical surroundings change; they are still there,” said Benjamin.

 

To remove the area of such “energies”, the investigators suggested complete demolition, excavation to the depth of six feet and leaving the soil exposed for a week.

 

A change of pace
It is not just the physical landscape that is becoming scarcer for abandoned places. To be sensitive to the supernatural implies a respect for the environment that is slowly fading among younger Singaporeans because of their hectic lifestyles, said Kenneth, who runs a chain of new age shops with his cousin.

 

“How many of us actually spend our time taking off our shoes, walking barefoot on the grass? What’s the feeling at that point in time? How many would actually relax, breathe?” he asked.

 

“Because when you talk about the paranormal, it’s no different from other things, like a connection to nature. A person who is connected to nature will be spiritual and a person who is spiritual will be sensitive to the paranormal,” he said.

 

To Benjamin, gaining insight into the paranormal has also been a window for him onto Singapore.

 

“Whether it’s exploring parks or going to these places, when I do my research, there’s tons of information I found that was also educational to me, like what happened in the 1950s or 1800s,” he said. Learning about the varieties of local ghosts also helped him to see other cultures in a different light.

 

“I think vice versa, when [my friends] hear about the seventh month traditions and superstitions, there’s a lot of learning and appreciation of each other’s culture,” he said.

 

Abandoned buildings and places have value as part of Singapore’s heritage and history; while their physical structures may have fallen into disrepair, their stories, even the tragic ones, should be preserved, said Benjamin. To understand Singapore, one needed to go beyond the shopping malls and cinemas, Benjamin added.

 

“I think there’s a lot more to see out there,” he said. And he doesn’t just mean in the physical realm.