(Photos by Stephen Shaver. Story by Xixi Quan, UPIU contributor)
July 20th marked China’s largest environmentally-friendly funeral, during which the remains of 281 people were buried in biodegradable urns in Tianjin, southeast of Beijing. The funeral was held at Yongan Memorial Park and hosted by the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Beichen.
Tianjin city officials began promoting the urns in March. Several other cities have hosted funerals to promote the urns, and Chinese officials say they expect the practice to spread.
The patented urns are made of silver sand and look like earthenware jars. Each urn degrades after a few hours submerged in water, or after a few months buried underground. In a country which has 1/5 of the world's population and has a death rate of up to 10 million a year, the practice of eco-burials are designed to contribute to the protection of the environment as space at cemeteries has become a serious issue.
About 200 guests, including President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, attended the standing-room-only event in the White House's East Room.
The show is to air as "In Performance at the White House" Oct. 20 on PBS stations in the United States.
Obama noted that many of Broadway's biggest stars arrived in this country as poor immigrants and said that, at their best, Broadway musicals have not just served as entertainment, but also raised social consciousness, challenged stereotypes and helped shape "our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics."