Chong Yang Festival, 21st October 2010

Preparation work for paying respects to Loret Kei Lee at the Chong Yang Festival in 2010 started 10 days prior to the event.  Loret Kei Lee was a prominent member of Manchester Chinatown and is greatly respected by the Manchester Chinese Community. He was responsible for the campaign to establish the Chinatown Arch in Manchester (1986), the Chinese Library in Manchester Central Library (1987), the opening of an international terminal at Manchester Airport in (1985), and lobbying for the location of the Manchester office of the Chinese Consulate in UK (1987) as opposed to it being based in Liverpool. Mr. Lee passed away in 1996, nearly 15 years ago.

 For the food offering, we included acquired a suckling piglet, white-cut chicken, and roast duck from Tai Pan Restaurant on the previous Tuesday, to offer the deceased. Burnt offerings included a model paper ship to wish the deceased a safe journey into the afterlife, a paper model car and a paper model house to wish prosperity in the afterlife, and paper ‘ingots’ made from gold coloured leaf paper and silver coloured leaf paper to bless the deceased with afterlife prosperity. About 250 paper cranes, to symbolize a free spirit in the afterlife, were folded from plain white paper for burnt offerings. Preparations also included commemorative calligraphy and setting up of media recording.

Our group included Jenny Wong, Director of the Manchester Chinese Centre; Jane Speller, Project Leader for the Manchester Chinese Archive; Josie Sykes, Community Development Officer at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry), volunteers and friends of Mr. Lee.  We left the Manchester Chinese Centre at 11:15 am, and our entourage made its way to the Chinese section of Southern Cemetery in Chorlton. Incense sticks were lit for individuals to pay their respects at the burial site, and the paper offerings were burnt. The event was very Chinese in essence and the English members of Manchester Chinese Centre who participated in the event found it very educational. Speeches were made by Mr. La, Andrew Yu, and Xiao Shang Yun.  

The event concluded with a 16-person commemorative meal at Tai Pan. The participants who had never paid respects to Chinese dead before found it very  interesting, as it gave them an insight into the traditional Chinese attitude to the deceased, and their beliefs in the after life.

Andre Li, Manchester Chinese Archive volunteer

“ Loret Lee is an important figure and a great credit to Manchester Chinatown. For example Manchester’s international airport, Lee put a great deal of effort to lobby the Government to build the airport here in Manchester. On another note it was originally decided that the Chinese Consulate was to be set up in Liverpool but Lee persuaded the Government to have the Chinese Consulate set up in Manchester. “

~ Andrew Yu