Chinese families should be sweeping graves now. But thousands still haven’t buried their dead. - JK News Live

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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Chinese families should be sweeping graves now. But thousands still haven’t buried their dead.



A person prays in front of a gravestone in Wuhan, China, in 2011, ahead of Tomb-Sweeping Day, when Chinese people traditionally remove weeds and brush away dirt from their ancestors’ graves. This year, thousands of families have yet to bury their dead.
For at least two millennia, Chinese people have headed to their ancestors’ graves on the 15th day after the spring equinox to remove weeds and brush away dirt, to offer food and wine and paper money so Grandma and Grandpa can enjoy the afterlife.

Saturday is Tomb-Sweeping Day. But few will be tending to graves this year, despite the many recent coronavirus fatalities. Thousands of families, especially those in the outbreak’s epicenter, Wuhan, have been unable to bury their dead.

“No one in the family got to say goodbye to Grandpa or see his face one last time,” said Gao Yingwei, an IT worker in Wuhan whose grandfather, Gao Shixu, apparently succumbed to the novel coronavirus on Feb. 7. The 76-year-old died at home; funeral workers in hazmat suits came to collect his body, telling the family it would be cremated immediately
“To this day, we have no idea how his body was handled, where his ashes are or when we will be able to pick them up,” Gao said. “I don’t even know which funeral parlor those guys were from.”

Adding to the angst, tomb-sweeping rituals — when huge crowds flock to cemeteries — have been either banned or severely curtailed by authorities nationwide. While a limited number of mourners with reservations will be allowed into graveyards in Beijing and Shanghai, there will be no such gatherings in Wuhan, where the municipal government has banned funeral ceremonies and tomb-sweeping until at least May.

This is ostensibly because of health issues, but it also reflects Beijing’s political desire, experts say, to deny emotional families the chance to get together and complain about the government’s handling of the outbreak — a matter of acute sensitivity for the ruling Communist Party. 

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