Friday, April 08, 2011

Sweeping of the Tombs

Last week here, it was the “Sweeping of the Tombs Festival”. This happens every spring. Some city people will return to their hometowns to spend time with family and sacrifice to their ancestors. Other city dwellers will take the allotted two days off of work to head out to Shanghai or Beijing and spend their money on lovely touristy type things.

This year was interesting because we have moved further down South where they are much more outwardly religious than the Northeast. I am rubbing shoulders with monks on the buses and gazing at temples as I drop the kids off at school in the morning. Each family member is to purchase a paper replica of something that they think their ancestors could use in the afterlife. Then, they take these objects and burn them in a small bonfire on the side of a street or next to their loved one's grave site.

The most common things that people buy are paper copies of money, cars, new clothes or cell phones. Most of these things can be bought on the street or in any store. As you pass through the produce section, you can pick up your sacrifices to be offered after dinner. But this year, Steve Jobs made a splash in the shallow ancestor worship pond. People were stocking up on the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 paper replicas. These are the latest and greatest generation of Apple products. The replicas came with a picture of the start-up screen and were selling out the second they hit the streets. Although, some people were concerned that their deceased great grandparents wouldn’t be able to operate such a modern gadget and so stuck with burning money instead. Others were disappointed that the newest generation was sold out and so settled with buying the first generation iPad. It would no doubt be offered with a sense of sorrow at the substandard offering.
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