While some may look at pictures of the mayhem that was Tomb Sweeping Day inside Chinese cemeteries and see a place where you might be better off dead, others look and see a potential gold mine.
In visiting a hillside public cemetery in Wuhan yesterday, a blogger exposed the thriving industry of stealing offerings left by mourners and selling them for a real world profit; and found that it was often young children who were engaging in this non-traditional form of tomb sweeping.
To start off, Wang Haofeng, a NetEase blogger, stealthily took pictures of one woman as she swiped flowers, fruit and candles from graves and stuffed them in separate bags. Later, he followed the woman down hill and back to the city where he recorded her selling the stolen offerings to various vendors.
Investigating further, Wang found that the used candles go to local melting plant where they are recast into brand new red candles. The boss admitted that he had been involved in this waxy business for the last 10 years and Tomb Sweeping Day was always a very profitable time of year for him. He confessed that he earns at least 50,000 yuan a holiday, more if the weather is good.
Arriving back at the cemetery, Wang found that young children were also involved in the grave robbery business. He took pictures as one 6-year-old stole candles from a tomb and as one girl fled after being discovered taking candles. He also followed around a pair of girls with a backpack filled with fruit and candles instead of books.
In accessing the situation, Netizens have proved to be quite diplomatic. While some see this as a clear violation of the law and tradition, others would rather look at it as just a form of recycling. “The offerings on the hillside were all just going to be wasted and instead the ayis and children are making them useful again. The mourners already have their comfort and if others can make a little bit of money. Why not?” one netizen commented.
Meanwhile, others warned those engaged in this industry and other Tomb Sweeping Day opportunists – like weepers-for-hire and replica iPhone 7 makers – to be wary of aggrieved ghosts.
by Alex Linder
[Images via NetEase]