A growing number of Chinese are using the internet to visit their ancestors’ graves during traditional occasions such as the Tomb Sweeping Festival.

In a startling combination of old and new, China now has 100,000 online cemeteries and memorials, offering a place of worship for people who are too busy to leave their offices, the Xinhua news agency reported.
These religious websites allow Internet users to dedicate songs, present virtual wine and flowers, and burn candles and incense to mourn the dead during the Tomb Sweeping Festival, it said.

“Maybe the online world is closer to Heaven than the real one,” said a university student surnamed Yang as he posted an online article commemorating his late grandmother.

As the Tomb Sweeping Festival has drawn closer, the number of hits at popular online memorials and cemeteries have climbed to one million a day, Xinhua reported.

Chinese web surfers can also use the facilities to pay homage to important historical figures such as former Premier Zhou Enlai or Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China, it said.

The authorities actively encourage online ceremonies as virtual burning of incense does not pose the same challenge to the environment as in the real world.

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