SZ holds mass sea and tree burials

Writer: Zhang Yu  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-03-23

Four ships carrying the ashes of 393 deceased people ploughed through the waves and sailed into the Dapeng sea area yesterday when Shenzhen held a mass sea burial.

The ashes, including those of 52 deceased people from Guiyang in Guizhou Province and three body donors, were scattered in the waters off Dapeng Bay with flower petals.

Residents empty the ashes of their deceased loved ones through a metal funnel during a sea burial service in Dapeng yesterday. Photos by Liu Xudong

As the ships arrived at the designated burial places, each family took turns standing beside metal funnels that were hung from the sides of the vessels, emptied their urns and bid farewell to their deceased loved ones.

A man surnamed Yue from Guiyang was aboard to scatter his father’s remains into the sea and fulfilled his father’s final wishes. Yue’s father passed away in 2021 at the age of 86.

The ashes with flower petals are scattered in the waters off Dapeng Bay at a sea burial service. 

Residents bid farewell to their deceased ones during a sea burial service.

“My parents had said many years ago that they wanted a sea burial after they passed away. My mother had a sea burial in Shenzhen back in 2017 when my father and I were both here,” Yue told Shenzhen Daily.

According to Yue, sea burial is a good option for burial services, as it doesn’t occupy an inch of land.

A woman surnamed Sun said her last goodbye to her late mother, who died of cancer, through the sea burial. She also brought white rose petals to the service as her mother was fond of roses.

Residents at yesterday's tree burial service at Jitian Cemetery in Longgang District.

“My mother believed in God. We wish that she could be with the Lord and be carried around the world by the waves,” Sun said, adding that such a burial is a way back to the nature.

Meanwhile, as land resources are limited, eco-friendly burials like tree, sea and flower bed burials are becoming more popular as they occupy no or less land, according to Sun.

A woman hangs a card with blessings onto a tree yesterday to remember the loved ones she has lost at Jitian Cemetery in Buji, Longgang District.

A mass tree burial was also held yesterday morning at Jitian Cemetery in Buji, Longgang District. Wearing white gloves and holding baskets of chrysanthemum petals, the participating families queued in an orderly manner and placed the ashes of their deceased loved ones under a flourishing tree.

“My husband died of illness in October last year. Before his death, he was both a teacher and a Party member. He also won the titles of Excellent Teacher of Shenzhen and Excellent Member of the Communist Party of China many times during his lifetime,” a senior citizen surnamed Jiang said.

Residents bid farewell to their lost loved ones at a tree burial service at Jitian Cemetery in Longgang District.

Jiang said her husband was willing to have a sea or tree burial, because such burials are a pioneering initiative in funeral reform. “We fulfilled his wish today through a tree burial, so that he can be accompanied by green trees, embrace the sun, and rest in heaven forever.”

The ashes of 133 deceased people were buried during the tree burial yesterday, according to the city’s civil affairs bureau.

Shenzhen has been promoting greener options like sea, tree and flower bed burials since 1998. As of yesterday, the bureau had organized 47 sea burials and 16 tree burials.