19 March 2021
During Qingming Festival in 2020, due to the need of epidemic prevention and control, local governments meet the needs of the masses for the Qingming Festival, local low, medium and high-risk areas vigorously promote online green memorial ceremonies; low-risk areas conduct personnel diversion through online appointment. Most governments advocate that citizens should not go to the scene to offer sacrifices and sweeps. For those citizens who need to offer sacrifices and sweeps on the scene, they should limit the flow, make appointments in time and quantity. As the Qingming Festival approaches in 2021, there is still great pressure for prevention and control in various places, and online tomb-sweeping may still become a way of worship that the government is trying to promote.
At present, there are several different modes of online memorial service, and most of the platforms and technologies are provided by the government. Tianjin has opened an online memorial service platform, launched a "cloud" service for collective memorial service, created scenes for family memorial meetings, and funeral service agencies for collective memorial service to meet the needs of citizens to remember their loved ones. 54 commercial cemeteries in Shanghai have provided 29,000 times of memorial services. The 54 columbariums in Shanghai have organized a collective ritual of tomb-sweeping. Qingdao has adopted WeChat to allow public to carry out "cloud sacrifice" through mobile phones. Qingdao funeral parlour has also opened "space-time" mailboxes to receive letters of missing persons. Nanjing Civil Affairs Bureau of Jiangsu Province, has been developing an online sacrifice scanning software "Ning Si Nian" together with Nanjing Big Data Administration and Nanjing Veterans Affairs Bureau. Citizens can use their ID numbers to log in to the system and provide online sacrifices to their ancestors.
According to the survey results of "The effect of 2020 epidemic on funeral and interment enterprises", 83.1% of the respondents believe that the epidemic will promote the digitalisation of the industry, and 16.51% believe that the public will conduct more online memorial services. As for online services such as "VR tomb watching" or "cloud sacrifice", 15.6% of the respondents said that they are already in the forefront of the industry and are applying and promoting them, while 4% said they would not consider them. In fact, as early as 2013, the funeral industry successively launched relevant Internet services, but it still has not occupied the market today. The epidemic situation in 2020 has brought some changes to the funeral industry, but online sacrifices and digital memorials still require much push-factors, and is still a minority. According to the results of Dongfang.com's poll "How do you plan to sweep this year's Qingming Festival?", 52% chose to sweep after the epidemic, 33% chose to worship at home, 9% chose App network, and 3% chose other ways. The overall proportion of online tomb-sweeping is still relatively low.
As traditional Qingming process moves to a digital front, more and more people may choose to use modern digital methods to carry on the tradition of onsite tomb-sweeping and paying respect through online memorials.