Sunday, September 02, 2012

Ying Fo Fui Kun (应和会馆双龙山) Cemetery at Holland Village [Near Commonwealth MRT Station)

When i was studying in Singapore Polytechnic more than a decade ago, there was a rumor about a cemetery surrounded by blocks of public housing in Commonwealth; i was keen to visit (i was already a paranormal freak then) but laziness prevailed!

By now, i have already worked in NUS for five years and enough is enough! There shall be no more procrastination and with this absolute conviction, i searched and finally found the place one fine Saturday afternoon.

For those who are unaware, this piece of land belonged to Ying Fo Fui Kun (应和会馆) which was established in 1822; making it one of the oldest Chinese clan association in Singapore. It is a clan that falls under the dialect of Hakka and was created then for the benefit of immigrants who hailed from Jiaying prefecture in Canton, China.

Covering 90 acres at a point, the cemetery has since been reduced (drastically) to 4.67 acres! The answer for such massive reduction is simple - the newly created Singapore government (back then in year 1968) needed the land for housing purpose.

The cemetery was known by its auspicious name of Shuang Long Shan (双龙山 aka Double Dragon Hill) and was the little brother of the two found in that area (the other one, known as Yue Shan Ting, measured over 143 acres according to the book "Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore").

On many of these big-sized plaques lining the front of the cemetery, i can find this words Jia Ying Wu Shu (嘉应五属) - Jia Ying is the prefecture i mentioned earlier but i was a bit confused about Wu Shu since it could mean five branches (classifications) or five families under the Hakka dialect.

Unlike the elaborate designs and carvings found on many Chinese tombs, the visually simplistic box-like tombs can only be described as unconventional, however practical it may be.

The one place i can think of when i am standing in this cemetery - Kranji War Memorial where everything is neat and tidy. To a certain extent, i do mean unexciting (at least for the daytime).

A more commonly found Chinese tomb was located at the side but from the Chinese inscriptions, it was meant to be an offering altar for the Earth deity! 

Many train commuters might have noticed this cemetery in their journey between the stations of Buona Vista and Commonwealth. Some of my friends did and i have heard from at least two who thought it was a Muslim burial ground due to its layout.

Besides the cemetery, there were also an ancestral temple and a memorial hall (the building with the blue roof) located within the compound.

Only clan members and family members of those buried here are allowed to burn incense and paper money. It was mentioned on the notice that others found in violation of the rule shall be dealt with according to the law - a pretty hazy rule if you ask me.

Stone lion with red eyes and thick, red lips would have invoked loads of stories at night; especially during the seventh ghost month! Given that the cemetery is so near to housing blocks (and that many residents actually took the short cut across the cemetery to get to the Commonwealth MRT station), i am surprised that there aren't many ghost stories found on the web related to it.

The narrow space between each tombstone made me wonder; was there a real corpse buried behind each tombstone? I am doubtful on that!

It was indicated on each tombstone that the remains were moved to the current site (most of them in 1969) and from this website; i found information to confirm that the remains were cremated and it was the ashes that were buried underneath each gravestone.

After enduring the sun, the rain and the weather for over 40 years, some of the headstones were showing signs of deterioration. A few pushes and i bet i would be able to see the urn.

I am not sure of the significance of stones on top of the tombstone; i shall presume they were likely there for a rational reason. As a paperweight for paper money.

This seriously needs a paint job!

The history of this place was still very much a mystery to me and i guess another trip is necessary to unearth more information from the caretakers of the compound.

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Location
9, Commonwealth Lane

Map
As above

4 comments:

  1. A stone placed on the headstone means that the grave has been honoured by a visit.

    ReplyDelete
  2. interesting! that means i would have to put something on my grandpa's grave e next time i visit him.

    Thanks John!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous2:30 PM

    Doesn't seem very nice that you are so flippant about a cemetery ('creepy', 'haunted')and the tombstones 'needing a paint job' when real people's ancestors are buried there, like my grandfather. To you, it might just be a creepy cemetery with scary statues but to many others, it is the final resting place of their loved ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sorry but i stand by what i typed even though i didn't notice any word on creepy and haunted in the posting. Again, i apologise if i have shown signs of disrespect.

      Delete

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