Tomb-sweeping a quieter tribute this year

Hu Min
Visits to Shanghai's cemeteries and columbariums during the three-day dongzhi peak are down 26 percent on last year as a reservation system ensures no large gatherings. 
Hu Min
Tomb-sweeping a quieter tribute this year
Ti Gong

Tomb-sweepers lay flowers at Haiwanyuan Cemetery in Fengxian District on Monday. 

Tomb-sweeping a quieter tribute this year
Ti Gong

People pay tribute to the deceased at Fushouyuan Cemetery. 

Tomb-sweeping a quieter tribute this year
Ti Gong

Tomb-sweepers enter the Binhai Guyuan Cemetery.

About 900,000 visits were recorded at Shanghai's 54 cemeteries and columbariums between Saturday and Monday, the three-day dongzhi peak for tomb visits, a drop of 26 percent from the same period last year under a reservation system, local civil affairs authorities said.

The Winter Solstice, like the Qingming Festival, is a time for Chinese people to pay respects to their ancestors. This year, it falls on Monday.

Since December 1, around 1.53 million visits were made by tomb-sweepers, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau. 

Because of a reservation system, there were no large gatherings at most city tombs, the bureau said.

A total of 9,906 urns were buried in the city on the day of dongzhi, according to the bureau.

Tomb-sweeping a quieter tribute this year
Ti Gong

People pay tribute to the deceased at Fushouyuan Cemetery. 

Tomb-sweeping a quieter tribute this year
Ti Gong

A tomb-sweeper has her temperature checked at Haiwanyuan Cemetery.

Tomb-sweeping a quieter tribute this year
Ti Gong

A traffic police officer guides traffic at Haiwanyuan Cemetery.

Between December 1 and Monday, about 20,000 "online tomb-sweeping" visits were recorded by city cemeteries and columbariums, and 3,228 households requested cemetery staff sweep tombs for them, according to the bureau.

Residents echoed the call for smoke-free tomb-sweeping and the majority used flowers to replace firecrackers and candles, and "online tomb-sweeping” is gradually winning acceptance, the bureau said.

"Online tomb-sweeping" enriches the cultural and social meaning of commemoration, said Ding Changyou, a professor of Tongji University.

"The huge crowd of tomb-sweepers during Qingming and dongzhi posed challenges for city management in the past, and an increasing number of residents are picking other commemorative dates to pay tribute to the deceased, which promotes a new funeral and interment civilization," said Huang Yifei, director of the bureau’s funeral and interment department.

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