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Chinese Can Now Honor Ancestors Online

According to Chinese tradition, people sweep the tombs of their deceased relatives and friends on April 5, the day of Qingming (Clear and Bright) Festival.

Now the Internet has made things easier for the living.

Internet users can log on to websites of cemeteries and memorials to dedicate songs, present virtual wine and flowers, and burn candles and incense in honor of their dearly departed. They can also express their feelings and leave messages at the country's 100,000 online memorial sites.

"Maybe the cyber world is closer to Heaven than the real one," said a university student surnamed Yang, who posted an online article in memory of his grandmother.

With Qingming just coming up this Tuesday, the number of hits at popular online memorials and cemeteries has climbed to one million daily. More than 200,000 commemorative messages have been posted.

In addition to honoring their own loved ones, web surfers can also take the opportunity to show their respects for important historical figures such as Premier Zhou Enlai, revolutionary Dr. Sun Yat-sen and model soldier Lei Feng.

Civil administration offices are encouraging cybermemorials, since the traditional burning of incense and paper money in front of tombs is a safety hazard and contributes to pollution. Roadways are also routinely congested at Qingming Festival.

(Xinhua News Agency April 4, 2005)

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