Cemeteries offering online tomb sweeping

Hu Min
As Qingming Festival approaches, the Fu Shou Yuan Group is opening online sweeping channels at two cemeteries in Shanghai to avoid crowds gathering amid the coronavirus crisis.
Hu Min
Cemeteries offering online tomb sweeping
Ti Gong

A panoramic view of Fushouyuan Cemetery using visual reality technologies. 

Two cemeteries in Shanghai are offering "cloud tomb sweeping" services to prevent gatherings amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, cemetery operators said on Thursday ahead of Qingming Festival on April 4.

The festival is when people to sweep family tombs and pay tribute to their ancestors.

The Fu Shou Yuan Group’s Fushouyuan Cemetery in Qingpu District and Haigang Lingyuan Cemetery in the Pudong New Area have opened online sweeping channels for those whose relatives are buried there.

"Online tomb sweepers are able to edit the biographical information of their relatives, upload photos and videos, and offer virtual sacrifices and commemorative items online," said Zhao Yu, assistant manager at Fu Shou Yuan.

They can leave their wishes online and send the link to other relatives for "cloud sweeping," he said.

The service is also to meet the demand from people who can’t visit the cemeteries but still want to follow tradition.

Staff will sweep tombs for them and host a live broadcast of the proceedings.

Videos and photographs will be available on request, said Zhao.

"It is a special period and we hope such services can break the barrier of space and time and send the tributes of those who don't visit the scene to their relatives," said Zhao.

A panoramic view of the cemeteries using VR technology will be offered during the epidemic period.

"Old traditions are deeply rooted, but it is quite understandable because it is a special period," said George Chen, whose grandparents are buried in Fushouyuan Cemetery.

Chen used to visit the tomb every Qingming Festival with family members but he said he will delay a visit this year.

"I will pay virtual respects and visit the scene once the epidemic ends," he said.

Other cemeteries in the Fu Shou Yuan Group in around 30 Chinese cities are also offering "cloud tomb sweeping" services.

Live broadcasts of tomb sweeping will be hosted, with cultural commemorative activities staged online and offline at the same time.

Shanghai's 54 cemeteries and columbariums received 2.19 million tomb-sweepers on last year's Qingming Festival day, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau. Authorities reported severe congestion on roads and expressways.

The sweeping peak ran from March 30 to April 7 last year.

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