Li Ruihong (C) and her son show off their paper cuttings with villagers. [People's Daily]
Thanks to the efforts of Li Ruihong, holding weddings and funerals in a simple and economic manner has become a popular fashion in Chentang Village, in Liaocheng, a city of east China's Shandong Province.
Li is Party branch secretary of her village. She was first elected in 2007, and last month her household was honored as a National Most Beautiful Family for their promotion of the updating of backwards social traditions.
Even before being elected, Li was concerned about the extravagance of local weddings and funerals. Large and wasteful arrangements were often seen as a necessity, otherwise one could be ridiculed and subject to gossip, she explained.
Li said, "After someone is cremated, even if a small casket is available, the family will buy a big coffin. They would arrange for a percussion to play, and sometimes a Yangko team as well. In a word, the bigger the scene is, the more honored one feels".
"Rich families follow such old social traditions, so do poor ones. They go beyond their means to make the wedding or funeral impressive".
Li's first act as a new official involved the promotion of abandoning such old traditions. In February 2008, she set up the village-level Wedding and Funeral Council and formulated the Regulations for the Wedding and Funeral Council based on the local situation.
Initially the work was met with great resistance, even from Li's own husband. Fortunately, her son was more supportive, and, finally, the husband accepted the idea and joined the council.
Having won support from her family, Li successfully invited influential villagers to facilitate and simplify the weddings and funerals in the village. They wrote couplets, conducted services and worked out budgeting accounts.
Slowly, Li won full support and there were fewer voices of opposition.
The Council calls on young and senior people to live generously and be buried thriftily. The village formulated a set of rules and regulations dubbed "Five Giving-ups, One Assistance and One Trial Implementation".
More specifically, "Five Giving-ups" refers to giving up playing Chinese percussion instruments, drums, lion dancing, Yangko and drama shows, as well as giving up using coffins. "One Assistance" refers to the mass helping of households through difficulties. And "One Trial Implementation" refers to conducting trial runs of memorial services.
Thanks to Li's efforts and promotion, today, weddings and funerals are held in a simple and economic manner. Chentang village has saved on financial and human resources, and furthermore advocates a more civilized, economic, healthy and positive way of life, concluded Li.
(Source: People's Daily/Translated and edited by Women of China)
Please understand that womenofchina.cn,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by womenofchina.cn.