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Chinese Mark Ching Ming Festival to Honor Dead With Help of Cyberspace

Wednesday marks the Ching Ming (also Qingming) festival or grave sweeping day, when Chinese traditionally visit graveyards to pay respect to their ancestors. But people too busy to visit the graves of their loved ones can now honor them in cyberspace.

For more than 2,000 years, the Chinese have honored their ancestors on Ching Ming - also known as grave sweeping day.

Many people here in China still spend the day cleaning the graves of their dead relatives, making offers of fruits and flowers and burning paper money.

But an increasing number of Chinese turn to their computers to create virtual memorial halls for their loved ones instead of honoring them at the gravesite.

A grieving daughter put this tune on the web to commemorate her deceased parents. Other mourners have posted virtual candles, flowers or incense sticks and have left online messages to show they have not forgotten their loved ones.

China's biggest memorial Website, Netor, says it has 60,000 such virtual memorial halls.

Netor's director, Lu Wei, says honoring the dead online has a number of advantages compared to visiting graveyards.

Lu says an online memorial is a virtual world beyond the limits of time and space and allows for more information about the person than what can be written on a tombstone. He says travel to the graveyard can be inconvenient and take too much time if it is very far away, so that by contrast, you can visit a virtual memorial hall 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

A growing number of the Website's customers are overseas Chinese from countries like the United States and Canada. They want to honor their ancestors without having to travel to China.