Rural residents bid farewell to costly banquets

Xinhua, December 15, 2022
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GUIYANG, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Feng Xingran, 82, with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, keeps a clear mind in the changes of banquets held in the small town where he lives.

Feng comes from Xiaba Village, Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County of southwest China's Guizhou Province. The village was once heavily engulfed by extravagant funerals and bride prices, and locals would even spend 1 million yuan (about 143,000 U.S. dollars) building a tomb.

According to Feng, when the elderly passed away, it was common to hold a funeral that lasted for 10 to 15 days. Then, 100 to 200 villagers nearby would come and have three meals as well as midnight snacks together. "This was really a huge economic burden for the family," said Feng.

When talking about funeral arrangements at present, Feng gave his nod. "Funerals last for no more than five days, and thus, both the family and their relatives save time, energy, and money," he said.

"An ideal village has not just clean human settlements, but also good social manners and customs," said Feng Like, deputy Party secretary of Houping Township, which Xiaba village belongs to. To boost rural revitalization, the local government set out rules and regulations, and helped villagers break with backward customs.

In Xiaba Village, every household is willing to comply with the new rules. Tian Weigong, 65, has an eye for the differences in ceremonies past and present in the village.

"Males used to have to stay up late to hold rituals, but now we're free and feel easier and more relaxed," said Tian. His wife echoed that besides being time-consuming, high spending was another hard nut. The host family used to set off a mountain of fireworks and firecrackers and invite some eight gong and drum bands.

In addition to extravagant funerals, time-consuming birthday parties were also commonplace. "In the past, villagers in their 20s or 30s would even prepare a birthday feast and invite relatives and neighbors to celebrate together for three days, with huge expenses," said Tian Jingshuang from Simaoba, another village of Houping Township, adding that now it is not the case, since ceremonies, except for funerals and weddings, have been abolished.

To enrich the villagers' spiritual life, Houping Township makes full use of the exterior walls of villagers' houses and invites art teachers of township schools to draw and color.

In Simaoba Village, various paintings, involving slogans and countryside sceneries, can be seen everywhere. Tan Wanjun, Party secretary of the village, said that these vivid and visualized paintings scattered along the country roads help promote harmonious neighborhood and family traditions.

Xia Guangjian, a teacher in an elementary school of Houping Township, excels at painting and creates many works in the village. The township government will provide painting materials, and invite and give subsidies to local talents like Xia.

As villagers transform their traditions, unhealthy practices have been abandoned. Now, villagers pay more attention to the education of the next generations.

"Now, only one family member will go to a banquet. On other hand, many people have chosen to live in the seat of the township to accompany their school-age children," said Tian. ■