Alexa

Apple Daily: Tomb-sweeping tradition

Apple Daily: Tomb-sweeping tradition

Is it time to re-examine the tradition of sweeping the tombs of ancestors and offering sacrifices, in light of the fact that Taiwan is no longer an agrarian society? The ancient custom has been maintained for 2,000 to 3,000 years in Chinese society based on the teachings of Confucius. "Let there be a careful attention to perform the funeral rites to parents and let them be followed when long gone with the ceremonies of sacrifice, then the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence, " Confucian analects state.
In ancient times, this was one way for the Chinese empire to keep the people in submission. The thinking was that those who showed filial obedience could be persuaded to transfer that piety to their emperors. Discontinuation of such politically expedient training was not allowed even after the death of one's parents.
However, the practice could only remain rooted in a farming society where most of the population was bound to the land. Many family tombs were built close to the homes or farms so that the descendants could offer sacrifices regularly and pass on the rituals to younger generations easily.
However, in today's modern society, many ancient tombs have been abandoned as the descendants have moved far away.
Traditionally, Chinese people prefer to bury their dead on scenic hillsides, a practice that has resulted in the disfigurement of many beautiful mountains in Taiwan. In scenic areas like Yangmingshan in suburban Taipei, forests were cleared to make room for tombs, which now look like medicine paste on wounds.
Luckily, more and more Taiwan people are choosing cremation over burial. The pagodas in which ashes are stored are much more environmentally friendly and easier on the eyes than tombs.
(By Elizabeth Hsu)