Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Qingming Festival Day (4/5/2011)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Our first holiday! The Chinese started celebrating Qingming Festival on Sunday, but today is the official day of the Grave Sweeping or Tomb Cleaning Festival. A day to honor the ancestors and to welcome spring. Kent had the day off, so we took a walk through the Old City. Saw sheets and comforters hanging across sidewalks in front of tourist sites and laundry hanging in the parks!
A taxi was honking and honking at a man on a sort of motorized wheelchair, so Kent went to help push him off the street: 
Baiyun Guan or the White Cloud Taoist Temple:
Established in 1862, the temple was moved to this location in 2004 because of urban renewal. This temple is one of two temples in China to possess the Daozong, the written texts of the Taoist religion. The main hall contained seven gilded bronze statues of the Ming Dynasty, the largest had an interesting head covering:
video
As you can see, some type of ceremony was being performed.
In the side halls, thousands of niches represented ancestor families, and here the offerings were lined up - fruit, cooked dishes, tea or beer, cigarettes, flowers, coins, etc. But the main activity of the day was to fill up red bags with paper representations of the luxuries you wished for your ancestors in the afterlife (or perhaps they came to you in a dream and asked for something specific). Lots of money, mansions, cars, maids or concubines, etc. Also, to keep the ancestors up-to-date, you want to include cell phones, HDTVs, iPads, etc.!
The old and the new:
A side hall with three gods to worship:
Watch out!
The temples had an entrance fee, which we considered offerings for good karma!
Next a food market on Dajing Road. We believe this vegetable is heart of palm, and the vendor cleaned off the outer husk before wrapping it up for you:
Duck heads (duck tongue is a delicacy):
A very neat vegetable display:
Bamboo brooms:
Fangbang Road decorative arch:
Fuyou Road had posts with golden dragon heads:
A dollar store (more like $1.50 store)!
And why say "everything" if you can say "entire audience"!
Entrance to the oldest (1868) mosque in Shanghai:
Chen Xiang Ge Temple and Nunnery at the end of a shopping street:
Chen Xiang Ge Temple entrance:
This temple was first built by Pan Yundaun, the founder of Yu Gardens, in 1600 in honor of his mother after  he found a statue of Avalokitesvara when dredging the river. It was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but rebuilt in he 1990s.
Incense burning trough:
Main hall:
Rear courtyard:
Filling up the bags for the ancestors:
Dropping the offerings in the cauldron to burn:
Yu Yuan Bazaar is a major shopping area with modern stores in traditional-style buildings. This place mixes the old golden dragon decorations with modern TV promos:
Gateway to shopping!
Yu Yuan Bazaar:
Rooftop garden:
Entrance to the City God Temple:
Established in 1403 for a god to protect the city, the temple once covered the whole area of the Bazaar, but is now squeezed among the shops. The largest temple we've seen so far, it was more of a tourist attraction than active temple.
But a ceremony was in progress:
video
Now into the Bazaar; a teapot fountain:
Restaurants around a plaza:
Gourds:
Old moving picture show:
The Huxinting Teahouse:
The teahouse was built in 1784 by cotton merchants, and sits on pilings in the middle of a lake filled with koi. It is reached by a zig-zig bridge, which protects the teahouse from evil spirits, who cannot turn corners!
Old and new:
Kids fish for goldfish in a nearby park!
We took a hike down along the river to Cool Docks, another shopping and dining complex, to meet the boss and a few of the other new BASF employees. Had lunch at Kebabs on the Grille, an Indian restaurant. The other new folks included a Brit moving with his family from the Middle East, and a German girl here for two months.
On the way back to the Residence, I could take a photo of the Dajing Tower, which had laundry in front of it before. This tower is the last remaining bit of the wall that once surrounded the old city of Shanghai.

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