When tomb-sweeping innovations prove incensing
The solemn tradition should not become a form of entertainment
  ·  2023-04-07  ·   Source: NO.15 APRIL 13, 2023

Qingming Festival, or Tomb-Sweeping Day, fell on April 5 this year. Qingming, the fifth of the 24 solar terms on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, is the time for Chinese people to pay their respects to their ancestors and deceased family members. 

They visit their graves and, for example, offer food, tea or wine, burn incense and burn or offer joss paper, which represents money. In recent years, problems associated with some of these longstanding traditions, such as air pollution caused by the burning of joss paper, have aroused widespread concern. Online ancestral tributes are becoming increasingly popular. Unfortunately, a lack of cybersupervision has sparked an entirely new set of problems incensing netizens.

Pan Luyi ( Qingming Festival falls during a season when fires in forests and mountains tend to break out easily. Every year, we see reports of fire incidents as the tomb-sweeping rituals include burning incense and joss paper and sometimes setting off firecrackers. In cities, burning joss paper on the sidewalk, as so many residents do during the festival, affects urban life by causing hazes and smoke. Plus, smoldering cinders can constitute a major fire hazard. And the ashes left behind add to road sanitation workers' workload.

Against this backdrop, coming up with new ways of tomb sweeping, like online tributes, is the wise thing to do. By doing so, while honoring their ancestors and carrying on the Qingming tradition, people are also promoting green and low carbon ways of life.

The festival is about people cherishing the memory of their late family members and worshipping their ancestors. In this sense, tomb sweeping without firecrackers works just fine as these new online methods can also help achieve the bigger goal.

Guan Yubing (Workers' Daily): Recent years have seen the arrival of online memorial halls, making it easier for people to pay their respects to their ancestors and loved ones who have passed away. It's acceptable for these platforms to charge a fee for offering this type of service. However, if they exploit people's filial piety to make big money, that's a completely different story. In some cases, these worshipping websites are featured on actual league tables: The more people spend, the higher a memorial hall ranks.

Cyberspace should not be lawless territory and online worshipping must never be used to trick people into spending their hard-earned cash.

To ensure the smooth and clean operation of online memorial halls, the Internet watchdog must work out practical rules to regulate this budding business. Also, nonprofit online memorial halls should serve the public's convenience. The solemn tradition of worshipping one's ancestors should not become a form of entertainment. 

Hu Xinhong (Qianjiang Evening News): The lack of effective supervision has led to online memorial hall chaos. In some extreme cases, you can spot an online memorial hall created for someone who's still very much alive, even featuring this person's portrait and eulogy. And then there's the occasional memorial hall for a virtual figure. These may just be "pranks," but their creation did already constitute a breach of related laws and therefore should be punished. These pranks aside, ranking people based on their sacrificial expenses and creating memorial service packages are simply designed to seek excessive profits.

Taking the Qingming tradition online is an innovation that comes along with modern life, but it must abide by laws and regulations—plus basic moral codes. A virtual practice it may be, but the emotion underlying it remains real and mustn't be tarnished.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon 

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