04/26/2006, 00.00

Chinese regime comes out against ritual offerings to dead

The Ministry of Civil Affairs said such offerings were "obscene and vulgar, as well as superstitious". Offerings in vogue at the moment are little models of Viagra, luxurious cars and showgirls.

Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – The atheistic Chinese Communist Party has launched a new attack against the religious nature of its citizens' lives: soon, ritual funeral offerings, which have been practiced in the country for around 3,000 years, will be "outlawed".

On 23 April, Dou Yupei, Vice-Minister of Civil Affairs, told a conference in Chengdu: "The government is working to revise regulations for funeral services to make the ritual of burning offerings an offence."

In China, it is commonplace to burn paper offerings of images before the pyre of deceased people, representing their luxuries and necessities in the netherworld. Now, this will no longer be possible.

"Burning this stuff not only encourages an air of superstition, but also looks vulgar and obscene," continued Dou. Right now, the most popular offerings are Viagra, Super Girls [a sort of singer-soubrette] and luxury cars, but models of villages and land are also burned.

"Those who burn models of villas, sedans and actresses will be punished by the ministries of land and resources, forestry, and civil affairs," he added.

"There was never any guarantee that the dead could enjoy the luxuries burned by their relatives," wrote a journalist of Hong Kong in reaction to the news. "But the authorities of mainland China are going make sure their citizens don't enjoy in another life those benefits they were deprived of on this earth."

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