Tuesday, September 27, 2011

One New Experience Each Week - Bukit Brown Cemetery

Bukit Brown Cemetery is the largest Chinese Cemetery outside of China. Estimated 250,000 people were buried there, and there are lotsa Singapore pioneers buried in this place around 1920-1940s. In the land scarce Singapore, the government has been toying the idea of redeveloping the whole area. 

I joined a free tour provided some activists trying to preserve this cemetery by educating us the historical and heritage value of this place. His passion for this cemetery and Singapore history is amazing.

The cemetery is huge and covered with overgrown weeds. It is also very peaceful and quiet, and I enjoyed walking there, but it could be really eerie and scary to walk there during the night.

Lion guarding the tomb.

Chinese Fairy guarding the tomb.

Grandmother of Dr Tony Tan (Current President of Singapore)

A Humble Looking Tomb (Surprisingly!!!)
Grandfather of Lee Kuan Yew (First Prime Minister of Singapore)
Great-Grandfather of Lee Hsien Loong (Current Prime Minister of Singapore)

Boon Lay Town and MRT Station Origin
Mr Chew Boon Lay (Renowned Businessman)

Read this Death Date: "Lak Guek Chap Jee Jit"
It means "六月十七日" in Hokkien and the date is based on Lunar Calender.

Pernankan normally speaks English, Malay and some form of Chinese Dialect, unfortunately, most of them could not read and write Chinese. 

Sikhs Guarding the tomb. Legacy of Colonial rule.

Descendant of renowned businessman and philanthropist - Tan Tock Seng.
Apparently, he was a supporter of Chinese Kuomintang (Taiwan), hence, the ray on both sides of the tombstone are symbol of Kuomintang. Interesting!

The Largest Tomb in Singapore.
Apparently, his descendants are still doing very well, as the tomb is up-kept in good condition. Chinese believes in Fengshui, and one of the cornerstones of Fengshui is believing that a good ancestral burial ground could either bring great fortune or ill-luck to the future generations.

"In Confucian ideals, filial piety (Chinesepinyinxiào) is one of the virtues to be held above all else: a respect for the parents and ancestors. The Confucian classic Xiao Jing or Classic of Xiào, thought to be written around 470 BCE, has historically been the authoritative source on the Confucian tenet of xiào / "filial piety"

Stories of Filial Piety were engraved onto the tombstone to remind the future generation of importance of showing respect to our parents and ancestors. It is THE most important Chinese value. 

A son is fanning a bed so that it is cool enough for his father to sleep.

A young lady is breast-feeding her mother-in-law who was hungry, instead of her own hungry child.

Passionate Guide searching for tomb!!!

He was searching for tomb long forgotten by people. That morning, he was sharing with joy & much excitement that he discovered a tomb of another important person (whom I do not know). Respect!


Until a few days ago, I did not know that my family used to live very close to Bukit Brown Cemetery. My late paternal grandfather was in the business of engraving tombstone. So some of the tombstones engraving might be done by him. I had very blurred impression that place, as my earliest memory of that place was back in 1984/1985 when I was 4-5 years old. I remember my extended family was living in a quiet place hidden in forrest, but I never knew the exact location. The mystery is solved now. I am happy now. =)


limsumin said...

That Kuomingtang supporter is my great grand father Tan Boo Liat

Do look at our heritage Singapore Bukit Brown Cemetery Facebook group


Boon said...

Interesting! You should be very proud of your great grand father.

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