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More Chinese Honor Deceased on Internet

As this year's traditional Qingming Festival sets in, more Chinese are choosing to honor their deceased relatives on the Internet, rather than at grave sites.

Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, falls on April 5 and is a day when Chinese remember and cherish the memory of their ancestors.

This year many people are holding on-line memorial ceremonies for late ace Hong Kong singer and actor Leslie Cheung, who committed suicide three years ago. On websites, they can present him virtual bunches of roses or carnations, post memorial messages or play songs.

Civil affairs bureaus in many cities nationwide have also called on residents to worship their ancestors on the Internet as it is more environment-friendly.

Traditionally, people sweep the tombs and pray, burn paper money and provide food offerings to their ancestors.

More than 4,000 people have built "memorial halls" for their dear departed at the on-line public memorial site set up by Shanghai Funeral Service Center in 2001.

The center's website said 40 million visits had been made to the virtual site to pay respects.

Gongdeyuan, a public cemetery in Nanjing, capital of the eastern Jiangsu Province, also set up a website offering memorial services and promising that on-line memorial halls can be reached in seconds anytime 365 days a year.

Experts believe more people choosing on-line memorials to overcome time and travel restrictions.

(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2006)

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