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April 6, 2010

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Public is loath to adopt new death rites

IT hasn't been easy to change people's traditional concepts on interment.

Yet cemeteries in Shanghai, running out of space for tombs, are trying to do just that.

The Xiyuan Cemetery in Qingpu District started promoting no-gravestone tombs last year. People's ashes are buried under a tree, and the ashes' urns, made from environmentally friendly material, degrades in a month, allowing the land to be reused.

The new tombs, however, failed to win a market. Only around 140 families accepted it.

"It's ridiculous that so many people's ashes are buried under one tree," said Ruan Xiaocong, a woman who was choosing tombs for her father yesterday. "And how can people rest in peace with their ash urns degraded underground?"

Other cemeteries have suggested placing the ash urns in a tower. Or under a flower bed.

The public shrugged.

Wang Hongjie, director of the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Trade Association, said cemeteries are designing and promoting these ideas individually, whereas a united industry effort might make more impact on the public.


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