Friday, 19 August 2011

Ancestral Temple of Ying Fo Fui Kun (Hakka Cemetery)

Note: News have reported on 18th Dec 2012 of the Last remaining Hakka Cemetery at Holland Close in the middle of a housing estate.
Committee members from the clan association have suggested clearing it out and building a multi-storey building there instead.
In 1996, before I selected the new unit which is the new block at Holland Close. I was told there's a Hakka cemetery which is surrounded by HDBs and I am aware the 'selected' block that I chose is a few blocks away from a old Hakka cemetery. I eventually selected the new unit in 1996, after renovation then moved in 1998 since till now. Ying Fo Fui Kun cemetery's location at Holland Close, nestled on prime land in a residential area. For almost 15 years, I used to walk to the 'Open' fence of  the cemetery's footpath lines to reach the Tanglin Halt and sometimes walk pass to Block 6 coffeeshop to buy food.
This original Hakka cemetery that was established in 1887 as a burial ground for kinsmen from Jia Ying prefecture in Canton, China. The Hakka cemetery had an area of more than 100 acres at Holland Road. In 1965, as large part of land was acquired by the government, the original cemetery size was reduced to 4.5 acres. As Queenstown developed, the burial land was acquired for public housing. The village was resettled in 1968 .New memorials and a columbarium were erected in the 1970s around this cemetery temple and its remaining land.
Most residents walk pass this 'Open' fence from their HDB blocks, to the main entrance of Ancestral Hall.
 Ancestral Hall
Today, the 1.89 hectare site retains the relocated graves, the original ancestral hall and a newly built community hall.
Unlike the elaborate designs and Chinese carvings found on many Chinese tombs, the 'checked' box-like tombs can only be described. 
Row of tombstones facing to Block 32

 Stone on the top of tombstone
The row of tombstones is simliar to one of the cemetery - Kranji War and the narrow space of each tombstone as if there's a ash or remains that buried underneath each tombstone. There are some stones on top of tombstones and no ideas for what purpose or this tombstone has a 'living' descendant to look after.

This signboard shown at the entrance gate which no one knows this piece of land is belonged to the Hakka Clan established since 1822, is one of the oldest  Hakka Clan 'Ying Fo Fui Kun'  in Singapore.

What puzzles me is the 'gift' stoned-chair that was constructed by ANN SENG CONSTRUCTION CO. was given to Ying Fo Mansion Swimming pool. Was Ying Fo Mansion Swimming Pool around when Ying Fo Fui Kun cemetery estalished in 1887?
On the right side of the cemetery, there's a Dai Bak Gong, or earth god, whose silver /white headstone is the gateway to the cemetery. Dai-Bak Gong is a popular deity amongst the Chinese of southern China. It is associated with wealth and prosperity but may also be a form of land god, whose main role is to watch over a site. There are 4 festivals in the annual Chinese calendar - the Hungry Ghost Festival, Qing Ming Festival and the Spring and Autumn festivals. A few hundreds of people come down to the Hakka cemetery during Hungry Ghost festivals every year.
Many of these 'large' size of plaque tombstones lining in front of the cemetery and this particular tombstone incribed in Chinese hardly seen clearly incribed the 'year of the headstone'. It could be earlier buried and one of the tombstones has indicated '33 years'on it.
Most of the urns are kept inside the Ancestral Hall (above) that the cemetery housing exhumed graves, comprises a 125-year-old ancestral temple, a memorial hall for the Hakka clan and a stand-alone columbarium where the urns are stored.
Footpath to the Ancestral Hall

There is a footpath that runs through the cemetery and residents of Block 6 and 7 use it as a short cut to the nearby Commonwealth Mrt. It's no wonder that some of the communters who board the train would have noticed the cemetery when the train drives pass by from Commonwealth Mrt and Buona Vista Mrt, is clearly seen behind the Petrol Station (Blue Rooftop).

Cemetery is seen behind the Petrol Station (Blue rooftop)

Inside the Ancestral Hall that is clearly seen outside the rows of the large-sized of tombstones. 
It is not clear whether the Government will most likely take back the land. It's such a pity that this cemetery has a long standing history and heritage. And this could let the younger generations to know the heritage of the Hakka Clans and the cemetery.

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