Houston Community News >> Chinese Use Internet For Offerings to Dead

4/4/2007 Beijing - Chinese Internet users are turning to "online tombs" as an easier way to pay respects to deceased relatives and others during an annual festival to honor the dead, state media reported on Wednesday.

At least five million people have logged on to websites allowing them to offer the dead everything from simple messages to the burning of electronic versions of incense in the run-up to the yearly Tomb Sweeping Festival on Thursday, the Beijing News reported.

Chinese turn out in droves for the festival each year to clean the graves and tombs of their ancestors as a sign of respect, leaving behind myriad offerings to comfort them in the afterlife.

Beijing's government is trying to promote the use of websites, typically set up by public cemeteries, to cut down on the traffic jams that coincide with the festival each year, the paper said.

The five million who used the online route have done so since April 1. Tomb sweeping activities typically begin about two weeks before the actual festival.

The paper said the huge growth in online offerings is likely due in large part to an increase in people paying respects to revered historical figures rather than direct relatives.

(Contributed by AP)