Thursday, April 2, 2009

Honouring the Dead

Qing Ming or Tomb-Sweeping Day is this Saturday. It's a traditional Chinese holiday where families visit the graves of their ancestors.

They literally sweep or clean the tombstone, bring some offerings, like fruits and chicken, wine and other favourite foods. Buddhists also burn stacks of money for heaven, paper clothes and paper shaped like gold ingots to those in the afterlife.

Some westerners think it's wonderful that there is a dedicated day for the Chinese to remember their loved ones, though China only started observing it last year after the change in the Golden Week holidays.

Nevertheless, this year the government is pushing for remembrance of those who died in the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan.

Although the first anniversary is a few months away, state-media organizations are being sent there to cover the event.

Why is the government doing that? We have not forgotten the victims, especially those students who died in allegedly shoddily-built schools. Their parents are still demanding the government release the exact number of students who perished, and yet their request is unanswered. Instead they are hushed up or forced to find other outlets to release their frustration.

China is also encouraging people to remember those who died for the revolution. It has set up a website where 'netizens' can leave patriotic comments. And speaking of martyrs, a TV series about Lei Feng, a selfless soldier who was devoted to Chairman Mao but died at the age of 21. He has grown into a cult hero and recently his image has been revived.

However, famed Olympic diver Tian Liang will play the young Lei, but this has created controversy in online forums. Some feel Tian, who has made a lot of money through endorsements is hardly a suitable choice to play Lei, who was known for being thrifty.

While we'll have to see if Tian does make a convincing Lei, it's interesting to see how people feel about a wealthy athlete playing a young patriotic soldier.

In the west we do sometimes raise an uproar about how much an actor is paid, but if they're good, who's to say how much they're worth? And does their own personality really matter?

But for the Chinese, playing a real person means that actor has to be true, inside and out.

Perhaps that's the best way to remember a loved one.

1 comment:

ks said...

oh why not give this fine young athlete a chance for a new career.