Ban on sale of traditional funeral supplies sparks online debate
Published: Aug 23, 2021 09:26 PM
File Photo: VCG

File Photo: VCG

A ban on producing and selling funeral supplies such as "hell money", paper horses and paper buildings in North China's Shanxi Province triggered heated discussions Monday among Chinese netizens on whether to abandon traditional funeral customs.

The ban is included in an article from a draft of regulations on funeral administration in the province, and was released to solicit opinions from the public by the Shanxi Provincial Department of Justice on its website on Monday.

In an article aimed at regulating the funeral market, the draft said that units and personnel who produce and sell funeral supplies must register with local market regulatory authorities and obtain permission from the civil affairs department.

Apart from banning the production and sale of "funeral supplies with superstition" such as paper men, paper horses, paper rooms and "hell money", the draft also bans selling coffins and other earth burial supplies to crematorium areas where cremations are carried out. However, earth burial supplies can still be sold to ethnic minority residents who observe the custom of earth burials within the province.

The new regulation drew heated discussion among netizens, with many disagreeing with the ban.

"These funeral supplies such as 'hell money' are a way of expressing mourning to the dead. It's not appropriate to describe these items as feudal superstition," one netizen commented.

"It's a funeral tradition with over a thousand years of history," said another. One netizen also believed that "[the government] should reduce its interference in secular life."

However, other netizens believe that people can buy flowers and use other ways which do not pollute the environment to mourn the dead.

Sunday marks the Hungry Ghost Festival for Chinese, which usually falls on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. On that day, people release river lights or burn "hell money" and other offerings by the roadside to comfort the souls of deceased family members.

Global Times