Move over Mao: Beijing tomb sweepers preen pampered pets' graves

Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:12am EDT
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By Joseph Campbell and Yanting Feng

BEIJING (Reuters) - China celebrates the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival on Monday, with much of the ceremonial ritual of honoring the dead these days not geared toward beloved relatives, but beloved pets.

Once banned by Communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong as a bourgeois pastime, having a pet has now become a symbol of financial success in China, which has seen the emergence of dedicated pet cemeteries in the last few years.

Qingqiu was among tomb-sweepers at one such Beijing cemetery to pay tribute to her fluffy Pomeranian "Huoban", who died at the grand old age of 15.

"It's like a heaven for pets," Qingqiu said of the Baifu Chongwu Tiantang cemetery, or "Hundred Fortune Pet Heaven".

"Huoban was very smart. He could pick up moves I taught him very quickly... Visiting the cemetery gives me a feeling that we did not lose our connection."

She said Huoban had witnessed her fall in love, get married and have a child. "I want to meet you again in the next life" is engraved on his tombstone.

Tian Peiheng, 66, paid respects at her Pomeranian's grave, along with her husband and daughter.

"I have deep feelings for her... After she was gone, it was just like losing my own baby," Tian said.   Continued...

Pet owner Ma Ying cleans the glass covering her dog Liu Dazhuang's tomb, with bathtub, dolls and decoration flowers placed inside, ahead of the Qingming Festival at Baifu pet cemetery on the outskirts of Beijing, China March 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Jason Lee