A Chinese man has held a funeral for himself just to see how many people would turn up.
Zhang Deyang from northern Shandong province organised a mock ceremony – and told his friends and family – in the city of Rizhao earlier this month.
Pictures showed the 66-year-old crawling on the dirt into a fake grave as amused onlookers took pictures on their smart phones.
Mr Zhang never married or had kids and had done many good deeds that “didn’t grab much attention in the community,” leading him to spend 16,000 yuan (£1,700) on a mock funeral, a report on Netease portal said.
“He needed proof of his existence,” the report said bluntly.
In Chinese culture, the dead are believed to have the same needs as the living. Families are not only expected to arrange for the funerals, but also pay regular visits to the graves. They burn incense to “feed” the dead and paper money for their loved ones to spend in the afterlife.
Mr Zhang was worried that no one would take care of him in death.
So he erected his own tombstone in advance a few years ago, and eventually planned this mock funeral this year.
Reaction from local villagers were divided. “This type of ceremony wasn’t worth the price, and that money could have been donated instead,” said a man who had attended the mock funeral.
Another villager was more understanding of Mr Zhang’s mental state.
“After working hard for a lifetime, Mr Zhang is alone, and has an empty nest. For these reasons its hard to avoid carrying some bitterness in the heart.”
Some 40 relatives and friends, along with several hundred curious people from nearby villages attended.
Mr Zhang wore an ill-fitted traditional Chinese suite in blue and gold and sat near a table of snacks as pretend mourners bowed at his feet.
The atmosphere was anything but sombre.
Mr Zhang was seen posing for pictures with curious villagers and had a beaming smile so wide you could hardly see his eyes.
The unusual ceremony reportedly included a mock wedding to a dead woman because it is seen as unlucky to go into the afterlife without a spouse.
“I organised this ceremony because I wanted to separate which people in my life truly cared about me and which ones were fake,” Mr Zhang said in an interview with website Qilu.
He may not have been prepared for the truth.
Days after the event, he still remembered the 20 relatives and friends he invited who failed to show up.
“I can’t believe so many relatives and friends don’t care about me. It still weighs heavy on my heart,” he told the Qilu reporter.
By JENNIFER PAK Feb. 18, 2016 on The Telegraph
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