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Posts: 2020

Peasant

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Q: Burning little mounds of paper on the side of the road?

I was biking home late a night a few weeks ago and passed a old woman crouching on the ground sobbing loudly as she placed pieces of paper (or documents or old photos or something) into a small mound fire she had set up on the side of a quite road, assumedly to mark the passing of a loved one. Aside from being one of the most heart-breaking things I've ever seen, it got me thinking....is every single ash mound that you see on the side of the road for a funeral? Or do the have another purpose? I only ask because I feel like I see these things constantly, oftentimes with people standing around burning stuff, but they don't seem to be sad or anything. Do they have another purpose. And for bonus points, anyone know the Chinese phrase for this activity? Thanks!

 

 

 

 

8 years 15 weeks ago in  Culture - Beijing

 
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Too my knowledge it is burning of money (simulated) for the dead

It is more prominent in  April (i think the 4th) when they have a holiday to sweep the graves

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8 years 15 weeks ago
 
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Emperor

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Jeez, you must be new. Yeah, it's a way to give money to the dead. 

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8 years 15 weeks ago
 
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Tomb Sweeping day is called Qingming, it is not on April 4th as it is according to the lunar calendar (but it is about that time of year)

The burning of fake money as worship to the dead also happens on e.g. anniversaries relating to the deceased, I would think people should go to the grave for doing this, but those you see at the roadside or other places may be because that was where the dead died or because it is not practically possible to go to the tomb. Maybe some also just do it if they happen to miss their loved-one on that day.

 

Try to search for keywords "joss money" or "qingming"

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8 years 15 weeks ago
 
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The idea behind it, as I've been lead to understand it, is that the spirits of the dead can become benevolent if treated well but can curse the living if they are neglected. This actually tells us something rather profound about Chinese conceptualizations of the universe in a spiritual sense. Specifically, the reward for ones actions on earth is based around being loved and remember by ones descendants through eternity. Right and wrong then, can be said to be determined primarily by how they effect the family, or institutions that are judged to be family like.

 

Anyway, it is a charming ritual, and I would like to actually watch somebody do it in its entirety, but I can never seem to work up the nerve as I feel like I'm intruding on something that should be private.    

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8 years 15 weeks ago
 
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