When a Honda CRV caught on fire during tomb-sweeping festival, the internet joked: “The descendants are so devoted as to burn a CRV as an offering to their ancestors.”
Other comments were: “No worship is as great as the worship of burning a CRV” and “The car owner has finally found a good excuse to get a new CRV.”
On Chinese Qing Ming or tomb-sweeping day, people visit their ancestors’ graves and leave offerings of food and fake paper money.
In Shanghai alone, more than 8 million people will travel to suburban graveyards over the three-day Qing Ming holiday.
People often leave fruit, whole chickens and other food for their dead relatives.
They also burn incense, fake money and paper models of houses and cars for their ancestors to enjoy in the afterlife.
Burning paper versions of luxury clothes, handbags, watches, and gadgets is quite common.
One Chinese family took it to another level this year when they spent $3,800 on a life-size replica of a yellow Lamborghini.
Many cemeteries now operate online memorial pages, where you can burn virtual candles and buy virtual gifts.
Some embed QR codes on tombstones.
Scanning the code with your phone allows you to access interactive memorials featuring photos and videos of your loved ones.
The Changqing cemetery in Beijing has gone one step further by removing the actual grave.
Instead, the deceased is cremated and their ashes put in a biodegradable urn.
The family is then given a plaque engraved with a QR code.
Upon scanning the code, they can view the person’s photos, videos, biography, family tree and leave condolences.
The Beijing government is offering this “natural burial” service for free to residents of the city.
They also offer free sea burials for residents. Last year 2,456 people took up that offer.
Virtual mourning cuts down on air pollution during the festival, which is officially on 4 April but lasts the week.
In Singapore, one Buddhist temple this year has banned devotees from burning “treasure chests”.
These are large paper boxes containing paper clothes and luxury goods.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, some shops are selling biodegradable urns to replace normal urns which could collect rain water and breed mosquitoes.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.