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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

From The Clouds

Today is the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese calendar, the date of the Double Ninth Festival and a public holiday in Hong Kong. The cultural goal of visiting ancestors' graves today is to demonstrate filial piety. I began to follow my family's practice as a kid, and have now become a core team member, although the young may think our traditional practice as ritualism.

"Do we have to pay respect to our ancestors at all?" The young may contemplate. "We can't ask to be born and our physical beings are created by our parents, and theirs by their parents. Despite the ups and downs in life, I believe a majority of us would like to live again if we could, and living only once is better than none!" I would suggest.

"Even if we should be respectful to our ancestors, we can do it in our own ways eg in our hearts, and we needn't conform or adhere to the cultural norms!" Those who experience tension may query. "But for those who are still with us now might not feel what we feel but might expect that they would be remembered like the traditional cultural practice when their time come. If you wouldn't demonstrate through action once in a while, how respectful can you be?" I would reply.

An innovative friend of mine created an e-platform, enabling family members anywhere to get connected via the family trees, to share ancestries' special moments, and perform online veneration to ancestry. I think such a substitute "facetime" is better than having no action at all, particularly for the young who might have got lost in the Chinese kinship. While the virtual bonding and experience could be good to netizens, I prefer to do it real as I do not think my ancestors particularly my Dad would know how to open the inbox or send messages from the clouds!

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