Members of nearly 180 families attended a sea burial service held in waters off Dapeng Peninsula on March 26, scattering the ashes of their loved ones into the sea from three ships.
Granny Yao, 79, was one of the attendees. Her husband passed away two months ago. “I hope that he can continue to realize his dreams in the other world,” Yao said. “We once saw a news report on sea burials and decided that the one of us who is left behind will say goodbye to the other one in this way.”
The sea burial held March 26 and 27 was the 41st of its kind undertaken by Shenzhen Funeral Home. The ashes of 178 deceased people were scattered during the service, 27.8 percent more than last year, according to a report in the Southern Metropolis Daily quoting official figures.
Of the total, 27 deceased people from Guiyang City, Guizhou Province, had their ashes sprinkled into the sea by their family members during the service.
As an inland city that doesn’t have the conditions for sea burials, the civil affairs bureau in Guiyang opened a “green channel for sea burials” in partnership with authorities in Shenzhen in March 2017. Anyone from the city who participates in the sea burial service will be eligible for a subsidy of 4,000 yuan (US$595.6) for each person’s ashes.
Wang Ping with Shenzhen’s funeral service department said the number of people who participated in this year’s sea burial service had reached a record high, as “an increasing number of people have accepted sea burial” as a way to bid farewell to their deceased relatives.
The ashes of 36,859 deceased people have been sprinkled into the sea since Shenzhen started offering sea burial services.
Also on March 26 and 27, a tree burial service for the ashes of 58 deceased people was held at Jitian Cemetery in Longgang District.
With flowers in his hands, a man surnamed Guo, 64, came to bid farewell to his brother who passed away after suffering from kidney cancer. “Tree burial is more eco-friendly,” Guo said. Guo’s brother had proposed donating his corneas but could not because his physical condition would not allow it.
Guo’s family received a subsidy of 1,000 yuan for participating in the tree burial service. The subsidy is for deceased people who held a Shenzhen hukou.
Under a 100-year-old banyan tree at Jitian Cemetery, there are several stone tablets engraved with the names of the deceased. At the event on March 26, family members held the urns of their loved ones and sprinkled the ashes into the earth.
Official statistics show that there are now ashes of 593 deceased people buried under the big banyan tree.