Gah San in Jamaica


The annual spring ritual of Gah San when graves are cleansed with incense and the dead woken with firecrackers and fed with wine was celebrated on April 2, 2023, in Jamaica.

The ritual was led in the Jamaican capital of Kingston by Mr. Dalton Yap, who has resumed the presidency of the Chinese Benevolent Association. Standing by the cenotaph beside a long table laden with a whole roast pig accompanied by poultry, seafood and fruit, he prayed for the security and prosperity of the community.



After lighting many candles and pouring wine at the foot of the cenotaph, he ignited a long roll of firecrackers at the foot of the cenotaph. He was assisted by former president Mr. Martin Chin.

Christian prayers were offered by Pastor Cornel Chai. The president of the Jewish synagogue, Mr. Ainsley Henriques, could be seen in one of the front rows, along with many persons who had flown in for the ceremonies from Miami, New York, Toronto and England.

Mr. David Chang once again laid out his Chinese catalogues of deceased persons under the roof of the pavilion and wrote out the locations of graves in English for each family who might have missed Gah San for several years. He often accompanied them to areas covered by bush and debris.

Zichan QuiOne of the most prominent visitors was Ms. Zichan Qiu (right), a student from Guangdong now enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of IIlinois in Chicago. Guided by Mr. David Chang (left), and Mr. Dennis HoSang (middle), she visited the premises of the Chee Gung Tong (Freemason) and the Chinese Benevolent Association. She will be supported in her research by Ms Yichi Zhang, who is enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica campus.

Gah SanDr. Keith Lowe, codirector of the Toronto Hakka Conference since the year 2000, celebrated the restoration of the grave of his father’s uncle Hing Gee. He was accompanied by Hing Gee’s granddaughter Ms. Colleen Lowe, president of Magnetic Signs, a company which produces metal plaques used at the public Dovecot cemetery. The photo below was taken by Dalton Yap.

Dr. Lowe also travelled south to Trinidad where he enjoyed the new year feast with the executive of the Fui Toong On society in the capital city of Port of Spain. He gave a lecture about his 200-year-old village Luo Shiu Hap located north of Shenzhen in Guangdong province.


Gah SanDr. Lowe was taken to tour the main cemetery in Woodbrook, Port-of-Spain, which has an acre of land near 1st Street West filled by the graves of deceased Chinese persons. Among them is the father of two outstanding Trinidadians, the sculptor/novelist Willie Chen and his brother the doctor/poet Wilfred Chen.

Among the graves there is one containing the remains of John Chen, who is the father two outstanding Trinidadians who reside in the city of San Fernando. They are sculptor/novelist Willie Chen and his brother the doctor/poet Wilfred Chen. The latter’s wife, deceased, was also a medical doctor as well as a prolific poet named Rajandaye Ramkissoon-Chen.


John Chen