Creative ways to honor deceased for Qingming

Hu Min
Local cemeteries and memorial venues are promoting different ways for residents to honor the deceased, after on-the-spot tomb sweeping was halted at all cemeteries due to COVID-19.
Hu Min

A post left in the livestream room of Shanghai Fushouyuan Cemetery on Tuesday – the day marking Qingming Festival this year – reads: "It's the quietest Qingming Festival. Let a gentle spring breeze send my missing to my beloved ones."

The festival, also known as tomb-sweeping day, is a traditional time for Chinese people to pay respects to their ancestors.

During last year's peak Qingming season, 3.43 million people visited Shanghai's 54 cemeteries and columbariums.

This year, cemeteries and memorial venues in the city are promoting different ways for residents to honor the deceased, after on-the-spot tomb sweeping was halted at all cemeteries to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Shanghai Longhua Martyr Cemetery in Xuhui District has launched an online H5 platform for people to pay respects to revolutionary heroes.

On the platform, people can lay virtual flowers and leave messages for martyrs.

On Fushouyuan Cemetery's WeChat account, people can record messages for deceased ancestors that are permanently kept by tombs. They can choose between poems, articles from the cemetery's online archive and their own personal messages coupled with background music. Recordings can be shared with family members.

As of March 31, the cemetery had received 1,200 tomb-sweeping orders that will be carried out by employees.

"There has been a surge in requests for the tomb-sweeping service. However, a number of our employees are under lockdown, so we can't fulfill all of them," said Sun Yi, a Fushouyuan employee.

Cemetery staff thinks leaving recorded messages for the deceased is a more intimate way to honor them.

"It's like talking to their family members, and using one's voice is a good way to release and express emotions," said Jin Leiyi, general manager of the cemetery. "Compared with asking others to sweep tombs, it is a better way to get closer to their beloved ones."

Shanghai resident Iris Yang made a recording in memory of her grandmother on Tuesday.

"How are you? My grandmother, I am fine and really miss you, as it has been five years since you passed away," she said in the recording. She also shared some childhood memories.

Shanghai Songhu Memorial Hall for the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in Baoshan District is hosting "cloud" sweeping activities and an online exhibition commemorating China's celebrated educator and reformer Tao Xingzhi (1891-1946).

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