Off-peak funerals to cut cost of grieving

Authorities have decided to offer a price reduction to those who opt to bury their deceased loved ones at other times of the year.

With heavy demand placed on the city’s funeral services during peak periods, authorities have decided to offer a price reduction to those who opt to bury their deceased loved ones at other times of the year.

In big Chinese cities, the deceased are usually cremated soon after they pass and the urn containing the ashes is interred at an auspicious time. 

The peak periods for burials are during the 15 days around Qingming festival, or tomb-sweeping day, and around Dongzhi, the winter solstice.

People who bury the urns of family members with a Shanghai hukou (permanent residence permit) outside this peak period will be entitled to a 1,000 yuan (US$145) subsidy for either traditional tomb burials or some kinds of eco-friendly burials, according to Shanghai Funeral and Interment Service Center yesterday.

Congested cemeteries

Qingming and Dongzhi are both key times to pay respects to the deceased by visiting their tombs. They are important occasions for tidying up grave sites and observing old traditions. 

During these periods cemeteries are often crowded with people.

“Urns buried during these periods comprise over 70 percent of the total for the year,” said Wei Chao, deputy director of the center.

“It is the first time we have use priced leverage as an incentive to encourage people to avoid sweeping peaks,” Wei said.

More than 2.35 million people visited Shanghai’s 54 cemeteries for Qingming Festival on April 5 this year, bringing an extra 293,000 vehicles onto the streets, according to the city civil affairs bureau. Close to 7,500 urns were buried on that day.

The combination of tomb sweepers and people simply enjoying a day out for the holiday caused severe congestion.

Five cemeteries in the city, Binhai Guyuan, Dianshan Lake Guiyuan, Weijiajiao Xiyuan, Xujing Xiyuan and Zhuanqiao Qinyuan, are the first to offer the subsidy. 

More will join the scheme if it proves a success, the center said.


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