Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Kheng Chiu Tin Hou Kong And Burial Ground ["Baby Tombs"] - A Walk with Singapore Paranormal Investigators (Part 2) @ Choa Chu Kang Cemetery [蔡厝港坟场]

Time to take a breather from all those China postings and let us get going on part two of my cemetery walk with Singapore Paranormal Investigators (SPI) to Chua Chu Kang Cemetery!

Due to time constraint, we had to skip the Christian section that day. Guess it would not be long before Chua organises another cemetery walk again!

Trees in blossom displaying tiny yet beautiful patches of pink! If not for the cemetery grounds, this place would be filled with Singaporeans at sunset.

Entering our next section via Cemetery Path 7, which also happens to be pathway towards the Cemetery Office for Singapore's only operating public cemetery.

Alex thought the drooping leaves on the round-crowned tree looked very special. By the way, we were walking towards an area known as Baby Tombs. Despite driving through the Chinese cemetery on a number of occasions, i am unaware of any section specifically reserved for babies!

Located along Cemetery Path 1, it was a sight to behold! In a way, i felt somewhat depressing to see so many little tombstones dominating the landscape! 

绿野亭坟场 (directly translated as Green Wilderness Pavilion Cemetery) - these five Chinese characters would make it easier for me to search for information online!

The small concrete structure houses a common deity in Singapore known as 大伯公 although it was not mentioned anywhere that this is a temple.

A sheltered tablet for wandering, homeless spirits. 

Each 'baby' tomb has no name and no other information except for a 4-digit number. Forget about buying 4D as there are simply too many of them!

I was initially under the impression that the baby tombs were a result of hospital abortions; hence the primitive stone-block look and neat arrangement.

This caught my attention in the midst of standardised uniformity; a headstone with the name of the deceased, his hometown and possible the date of death. Slightly more informative yet it lacked another date for me to calculate the age! 

Ah ha! This one was made in such a way to surround the "baby tomb" and provided all the required information that somewhat debunk the urban legend that they were baby tombs! At least in this instance, the guy was 45 years old when he passed away. 

An online search brought me to a document with important details that 绿野亭坟场 [original location was off Outram Road, somewhere near Tiong Bahru road] was officially open in 1840 and the land was acquired by the government in 1956! At that time, it had a total of 11,518 tombs for relocation to Choa Chu Kang! 

As with Ying Fo Fui Kun, the remains are likely cremated and buried in this cemetery. Why the lack of a proper headstone then? My guess is that many tombs (some over a century old) would have been in a state of neglect in 1956 and the colonial government was pretty desperate for more land to build housing in post war Singapore, leaving little time for the cemetery committee to notify the descendants of those buried.

Little time doesn't mean no time - to the left were some sizeable headstones and from polished look for a few of them, they continued to be visited by their descendants! 

It was a tight fit though, bearing yet again evidence that the remains were cremated. Culturally and religiously, Chinese in the past would prefer to be buried than cremated and i can just imagine the hurdles the Committee had to go through at that time. 

Having said that, i did find standalone tombs (like the above) in the vicinity that were big enough to accommodate a coffin. 

Another example even though this was a strange mix - it seemed like they came from different locations [note the ones with the words "my noble boy" and the symbolic ba gua] and were cemented together in this cemetery.

Bukit Brown is not the only cemetery with Sikh statues! 

A locked up pavilion close by had this notice put up by the Management Committee of The Kheng Chiu Tin Hou Kong And Burial Ground; the only English reference to this area dotted with "baby tombs" although i am still not sure if this is separated from the Green Wilderness Pavilion Cemetery, which is predominantly a Hokkien/Hakka cemetery whereas Kheng Chiu is a geographical reference for the Hainanese.

White memorial tomb indicating the relocation in 1958.

-journey to be continued-

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for your wonderful blog, and I hope to join us in:
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  2. you are so daring. always visit these places

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  3. Boomboom: thanks! but i dun need any dates. :)

    foodiefc: wana join me e next time?

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  4. erm thanks for offer. no, dun dare to join u for this. Food still can.. this - no way.

    haha

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  5. foodiefc: life is short; enjoy every minute, every second! it's damn interesting to see what you can find. :P

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  6. From post: "Alex thought the drooping leaves on the round-crowned tree [photo] looked very special."

    Great blog-post there. The above is a cultivated specimen of Baccaurea motleyana (Rambai, Ramei, 多脉木奶果). Its dangling fruits look like Langsat, & can be eaten raw (sweetish to sweet-sourish flavour), cooked or made into jam. The stem sap is used as a folk remedy to treat sore eyes, while its tannin-rich bark is used for dyeing.

    This tree species is native to S'pore & the SE Asian region (Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Moluccas islands). In S'pore, it is critically-endangered in the wild.

    Photos: Perigi Minda Utama, Plant Observatory Sg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for this piece of educational information!

      Delete

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