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June 16, 2011

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Tomb built outside apartments

UPSET householders complained after a fellow resident built a tomb for his parents in outside his apartment and played mournful funeral music while holding ceremonies there.

Chen Qiangxiong, a 47-year-old unemployed man, said he built the tomb in a private walled area because he could not afford tombs at local cemeteries in Baoshan District.

Residents say they are afraid to open their balcony windows as they don't want to see the tomb below.

Chen holds ceremonies to honor his deceased parents, often accompanied by "sorrowful funeral music" that residents say is disturbing.

Under traditional Chinese superstition, it is considered unlucky to live near a tomb.

The tomb, which was constructed in a corner of Chen's courtyard, has a 1-meter-long wooden marker, upon which Chen wrote his parents' names, and two electronic candles that residents say shimmer at night with a red glow.

Neighbors said a college student who used to live in the building was so frightened by the tomb that she moved to a student dormitory instead, while some other residents are looking to rent or sell their apartments.

"The tomb gives me a strange feeling that we are living in a cemetery, surrounded by death and sorrow," said 65-year-old resident surnamed Huang.

"Certainly, it's not a good thing for us old people who believe in the superstitions."

Guangdong Province native Chen, whose mother died last year, started building the tomb in April.

"I have to bury my parents here because the tombs in cemeteries are too expensive," he told neighborhood committee officials.

Chen said when his mother lay dying she insisted that he bury her near the apartment not in a local cemetery, in a bid to save costs for her unemployed son.

And he added that it was also a tradition in his hometown in Guangdong that deceased relatives are buried close to their homes.

The complex's neighborhood committee officials told Shanghai Daily that they have been working with Baoshan Civil Affairs Bureau to find tombs in a nearby cemetery for the ashes of Chen's parents.

They are now offering a price of 2,000 yuan for a tomb, compared to usual costs of 30,000 to 50,000 yuan.

An official with the committee, surnamed Huang, said Chen has agreed to relocate the tomb to Baoshan's Luodian Cemetery in two weeks.


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