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People's Daily Online>>China Society

China promotes ‘thrifty funeral’ concept


15:12, April 02, 2012

SHIJIAZHUANG, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Liquor is banned, meat is off the menu and only cheap cigarettes are available.

These have become customs for funeral feasts in Xizhuosu village in Jinzhou, north China's Hebei Province, under a cost-saving drive that is now playing out across the country.

The high cost of funerals has long been a complaint of the public, and discussion of the matter is sure to buzz around Tomb Sweeping Day, China's traditional festival of remembering the dead, which falls on April 4 this year.

Its pitch may be particularly loud in 2012, after Dou Yupei, vice minister of civil affairs, said during a national meeting on preparation for the festival that it was time to transform outmoded customs and make funeral affairs more frugal and environmentally friendly.

In some rural areas of the country, ways have already been found to guard against extravagant services.

Xizhousu, with a population of 2,050, established a wedding and funeral affairs committee in the 1990s, charging it with regulating and arranging the ceremonies.

Spending on a funeral is now limited to 2,000 yuan (318 U.S. dollars), which is almost implausible considering widespread price rises.

The standards made by the committee save the village's residents 200,000 yuan every year, according to Wang Qingkui, head of the body.

Wang estimates a typical funeral would have cost villagers at least 10,000 yuan nowadays if the committee hadn't been created.

Xizhuosu posted 9,830 yuan in the annual income per capita measure in 2011, higher than neighboring rural centers. However, funeral and weddings still have scope to be an economic burden, if Chinese tendencies to "keep up with the Joneses" in arranging these occasions are not curbed by the committee.

Wang recalls that a family in the village once invited a theatrical troupe to perform nine plays for people attending a funeral, which alone cost 4,500 yuan.

"Firecrackers were set off around the clock during weddings and funerals, which was a real waste of money and posed safety risks. Every year, there were people injured," he adds.

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Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

Fred Jansohn at 2012-04-03202.129.80.*
No disrespect intended to either the living or the dead, but let"s face it some people just love to go out with a "BANG"!
Canada at 2012-04-0270.36.49.*
Cremation seems the way to go, the ashes could be left at the crematorium or returned in an urn, they could be kept by the family or scattered somewhere. Instead of individual graves & tombstones there could be something like 6-12 inch granite walls with space for hundreds of family plaques, with flowers & plants at the base. The nicest way I"ve seen to remember loved ones are well designed & comfortable wooden benches in parks, green spaces, public spaces, and at the top of each bench are 3 or 4 small plaques with the deceased"s names, & a few words in tribute. The benches serve a social purpose as people appreciate the chance to rest their weary bodies, and often read and comment on the plaques, spend time remembering the person if they knew them.It is big business here for private companies/funeral homes to prey on people"s grief, suggest they buy the biggest and most expensive coffin, the most expensive service, tombstone, etc. to demonstrate their love and affection. It is a disgusting tactic that makes companies rich and impoverishes the family.

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