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From burning paper money to cyber-bouquets, Chinese honor deceased
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08:15, April 02, 2008

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Chinese are paying homage to the departed in diverse ways, from presenting cyber-bouquets to burning colorful spirit money, with the advent of the Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day), an occasion to commemorate the deceased.

In Xinzheng City in the central province of Henan, more than 200 local residents took part in a "tree burial" organized by the local government, where they buried the ashes of their deceased relatives under evergreens.

Yang Yonglin, a professor at Zhengzhou University, was busy digging a hole and planting a seedling. He said that he would commemorate his father, whose ashes he had buried under the tree, by visiting and watering the tree every year.

"This is more environment-friendly and it saves land resources," he said.

For thousands of years, it was a Chinese tradition to be buried in an elaborate tomb. Survivors would tend the tomb annually and burn spirit money and paper models of various items, such as cars, to be used by the deceased in the afterlife.

A slogan beside the newly planted trees read: "To commemorate the departed in a more civilized way; it is better for the country and the people."

In the same city, preparation for a grand ceremony is under way. More than 20,000 people are to gather in a few days to commemorate Huangdi, or the Yellow Emperor, a legendary Chinese hero.

According to local officials, the ceremony will include singing songs of praise, lighting ceremonial fires and reading of an elegy. The gods of money are also being invoked.

"We choose to commemorate our common ancestor in this way, hoping the grand ceremony will increase the city's name recognition and bring more investment," said local officials.

With more Chinese having easy access to the Internet, many are taking to cyberspace to pay their respects to the dead.

At one Chinese website, Heaven Travel, netizen Yyfyin set up a grave for his deceased grandmother. "I left my grandma a floral bouquet and burned incense for her," he said, referring to virtual items.

People are also commemorating revolutionary martyrs by clicking the mouse and punching the keyboard. Over the past five years, more than 135 million Chinese people have logged on to a site launched by the Communist Youth League of China to pay homage to the revolutionary martyrs.

But while some say good-bye in new ways, others stick to tradition.

In Beijing's surburban Huairou District, Liu Guiying, 62, was burning spirit money with her sons and grandsons. The funds were meant to be sent to her late husband. Her grandsons were asked to tell their grandfather, who died before they were born, about their academic progress over the past year.

"This is the conventional way of commemoration, which my father used to commemorate his father," she said. "We should conserve our traditional Chinese culture, which is unique in the world."

Source: Xinhua

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