Chongyang Festival pays homage to ancestors

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)


Local students play zeng, a stringed musical instrument, during the Shun cultural festival in Yuncheng. [Photo by Kou Ning for China Daily]

On Oct 25, a grand ceremony was held at the Mausoleum of Emperor Shun in Yuncheng city, Shanxi province, to memorialize one of the legendary ancestors of the Chinese nation.

A leader of the nation some 3,000 years ago, Shun was a role model for ancient Chinese rulers that also included the famed Yellow Emperor and Red Emperor.

According to history books, Shun succeeded Yao-another famed ancient ruler-to the throne at the age of 30. Before that, Shun was recommended to Yao by venerable ministers, and soon impressed Yao with his abilities in managing state affairs. Shun was also known for his quality of moral integrity and filial piety.

Ruling the country for nearly 40 years, Shun died during his inspection trip in a remote southern region of Hunan. His mausoleum was built in Yuncheng and memorial ceremonies have been held on this site every year since the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

The government of Yuncheng began to hold the Emperor Shun Cultural Festival in 2010, aiming to inspire contemporary generations to inherit Shun's merits.

The celebration also coincides with Chongyang Festival, a celebration held on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month to pay homage to senior family members and ancestors.

Emperor Shun is regarded as the common ancestor of many Chinese families including Sun and Yao.

The ceremony has brought thousands of descendants of Shun to meet in Yuncheng every year.

Sun Decai is the vice-chairman of the Yuncheng Businesspeople Association in Shenzhen. He has been one of the event's organizers for many years.

"I have been doing business in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, for 16 years. But I would return to Yuncheng every Chongyang Festival to offer sacrifice to my ancestors," Sun said.

Yao Xuemou, vice-chairman of the Yao Families Association, is another organizer of the celebration.

Since 2015, Yao has toured many places in the world, arranging trips for the members of Yao families worldwide to return to Yuncheng for the celebration.

"I once arranged trips for more than 1,200 people," Yao said.

During this year's celebration, a number of role models in Yuncheng were honored for their merits.

Shangguan Weixiao, for instance, was praised as a role model for his volunteer work.

Shangguan and his fellow volunteers opened a restaurant in 2016, which has offered free breakfasts to local city cleaners for about four years.

Li Yali contributed to this story.