BIG tomb-grab_3258208b

Busy modern Chinese professionals are contracting the services of “professional mourners,” to pay the necessary respects to deceased relatives, on behalf of the family.

Monday was the final day of China’s three-day “Qingming jie”, or tomb-sweeping festival – a national holiday. Relatives visit the graves of ancestors to mourn the departed, tidy their graves, and burn paper offerings such as fake money. Some families even leave paper iPhones at the tomb, for use in the afterlife.

And in a modern reimagining of this ancient tradition, some 30 shops on e-commerce site Taobao this year offered “tomb-sweeping packages” for between 100-1,300 yuan (£11-£140).

Aimed at relatives who are unable to return to their ancestral village, the services last for about 30 minutes and include mourning, kowtowing, weeping and cleaning.

The client receives photos and videos of the ceremony as a souvenir.

One absent granddaughter’s proposal of hiring a mourner to pay respects at the grave of her grandfather backfired when her grandmother became distraught by the younger generation’s apathy towards the tradition.

The grandmother reportedly burst into tears when she heard the proposal.

“Your grandfather worked hard in his whole life for the family. But in the end, it was strangers who went and visited his grave. He will be heartbroken,” she said, according to the South China Morning Post.

Qingming has seen a resurgence of popularity in recent years and has become a prime opportunity to demonstrate filial piety, a Confucian value deeply embedded in Chinese society.

Banned by the Communist Party in 1949 for its feudal roots, Qingming was reinstated as a national holiday in 2008. This year rail authorities predicted nearly 40 million trips would be made over the festival, a 13 per cent increase from last year.


Link to The Telegraph