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Cemetery offers online platform to commemorate family members


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people's memorial ways to some extent with some turning online during the occasion of Winter Solstice.

Winter Solstice, like Qingming Festival, is a time when Chinese people pay respects to their ancestors. It falls on Tuesday this year.

A livestreaming group memorial event was held by Shanghai Fushouyuan Cemetery in Qingpu District on Tuesday, paying tribute to the deceased who donated their bodies and organs, with traditional worship rituals followed.

At the tomb, there are 10 monuments commemorating those who donated their bodies as recorded by the Shanghai Red Cross Society.

Cemeteries in the city have established online platforms for people to express their grief, love and memories, promoting new ways to pay tribute and controlling the number of visitors to prevent large gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The family memorial enables users to create a memorial venue for their own family with old photos and memoirs of their ancestors.

Family members are able to light candles, lay flowers, edit the biographical details of their relatives, upload photos and videos, and offer virtual sacrifices and commemorative items via the platform, said Yu Hao, who is in charge of the Fushouyuan Cemetery digital platform.

"Since we launched the service for last year's Qingming Festival, it is increasingly accepted now," he told Shanghai Daily.

"Online visitors were mostly seniors and people who could not attend in-person services due to COVID-19 at the very beginning," said Yu. "Gradually, some who had just lost their beloved ones and sought a channel to express their deep sorrow also began to visit the platform, and this occurred nearly on a daily basis."

"Now, more young people visit the online site. It allows families to learn about the origins and experiences of their ancestors as well," he added. "Distance does not separate love, and commemoration is getting spiritual meaning from the tribute."

"Each family has their own online memorial hall, which is a private space for them to 'talk' to their perished family members," said Yu.

Alice Yang, a city resident, visits the online site frequently. She established an online memorial hall for her mother when she studied in the United States. She has returned to the city now.

Although she also swept the tomb in person, she wants to keep the online memorial hall.

"It is a time to be with my mom, who passed away three years ago," she said. "I uploaded her photos onto the site."

"It is precious memory that I want to keep," said Yang.

Yu said the cemetery would launch other services such as photo restoration, short films, and mailboxes to record the life and experiences of the deceased for their descendants to remember.

Article contributed by Fu Shou Yuan International Group Ltd

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Thursday, 18 August 2022

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