Extravagant Weddings and Funerals Face Austere Future

Unhealthy traditions in some rural areas - such as extravagance and waste in hosting weddings and funerals - have become obstacles to rural rejuvenation and
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Improved governance in rural counties puts stop to big spending by villagers

Unhealthy traditions in some rural areas - such as extravagance and waste in hosting weddings and funerals - have become obstacles to rural rejuvenation and must be eliminated, Han Jun, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said on Monday.

"We have conducted surveys in villages every year, and found giving gift money for various events has become the second biggest expenditure for many farmers, only next to food," Han said.

In some places, villagers tend to host extravagant events and compare with one another. Other times, a groom has to follow custom to give his fiancee's family so much money for the wedding that his family falls into poverty, he said.

"Cases of families falling into poverty due to marriage are not exceptions in some areas," Han said, adding that such customs have eroded poverty-alleviation efforts by local authorities. "Although farmers are strongly opposed to such practices, they feel it is very difficult not to follow suit," he said.

In a guideline released on Sunday, the State Council, China's Cabinet, called on various departments and local governments to lay a solid basis for the rejuvenation of rural areas, including promoting traditional virtues and eliminating bad customs such as extravagance in hosting events.

Party organizations were also prompted to intensify social security in rural areas, and improve legal governance and supervision of village officials to prevent corruption and improve the supply of public services in rural areas.

"It also requires support and participation from various sectors of society, including cultural workers, enterprises and volunteers, to be devoted to the development of culture in rural areas," he said.

In Feixiang district of Handan, Hebei province, authorities have been trying to reverse the trend of extravagance.

After consultation, villagers in all the district's 265 villages set standards for hosting weddings and funerals, including the number of banquet tables and cars, and procedures for ceremonies, according to Li Shuping, head of the district.

Village officials have been asked to take the lead and observe thrift in hosting such events, he said.

With these efforts, villagers' expenditures on various events have been greatly reduced, which has also won their applause, Li said.

(Source: China Daily)


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