Tomb Sweeping Proxy Emerges
    2014-04-04 19:22:34     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Mao

With the Qingming Festival approaching, the issue of 'tomb-sweeping' proxies is once-again up for discussion here in China.


 

Traditionally, tomb sweeping is considered to be a ceremony only for the family members of the dead.

But the distance as well as congestion of people and vehicles at cemeteries has made it a painful experience for some during the brief period. As a result, tomb sweeping by proxy has emerged.

On Taobao.com, China's biggest online shopping portal, there are more than 20 online stores offering Tomb-Sweeping service ranging from 100 to 3000 yuan.
 
Mr. Wang is one of the tomb sweeping service agents. He explains the service on offer.

"When we get there, we will sweep the tomb first and make the surroundings clean and tidy. Then we will hold a mini ceremony, including mourning, reading the words you want us to read, pouring liquor, burning paper sacrifices, and donating flowers. If you want to burn a tailored sacrifice like a paper car, you need to pay additional money. On average, it will cost you around 1,000 yuan. Everything will be recorded, and we accept online transactions."

Yang Xuan, a girl who has been working in a city far away from her hometown, welcomes such service.

"If the tomb is close to where you live, and you can afford the time; that's good. But nowadays, working and studying in another city or overseas is common. Distance is definitely a barrier. If you really can't make it back, and you want to pay respects to your family members who have passed on, tomb sweeping service is a viable choice."

But Yang also says people should not rely on such service. If you can make it back, you should go back. Nonetheless, this event only takes place once a year. Jing Xiaowei is a young girl in Beijing who shares the same thought.

"For me, tomb sweeping should be a serious ceremony for mourning those family members who have passed away. If you have strangers do that for you, like the tomb sweeping agent, it will not be honest. It has nothing to do with your actual emotions. So, if people choose this service, what is the Tomb Sweeping Festival for?"

The idea of tomb-sweeping by proxy has also raised concerns about the commercialization of the festival.

Professor Yu Jianrong from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says it is acceptable to ask others to help in tomb-sweeping. However, as for people making a profit from the festival, the commercialization of the festival is completely out of place. The nature of tomb-sweeping is to pay respects to the dead. This meaning will get totally lost when people start pursuing profit instead.

So far, most of tomb-sweeping service offered by on-line stores has attracted few customers.

For CRI, I am Li Dong.

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The Beijing Hour updated 20:00 2014/05/23
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