BEIJING, April 6 -- Three spirits -- a sovereign, a philosopher and a hero who led the fight against a prehistoric flood -- emerged from 5,000 years of Chinese history yesterday to take their place as the guests of honor in a day of national rituals and sacrifices.
The three were the Yellow Emperor, Confucius and Yu the Great.
Descendants of the Yellow Emperor, or Huang Di, the forebear of the Han Chinese who lived more than 4,000 years ago, paid respect to their ancestor to mark the Festival of Pure Brightness.
The festival is a time when Chinese people around the world honor their deceased ancestors and beloved.
More than 10,000 people attended the ritual for Huang Di in Huangling County in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, where legend has it that the Yellow Emperor is buried.
Among them were more than 2,000 people from Taiwan and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.
Spotted in the crowd were Li Tieying and Jiang Zhenghua, both vice-chairmen of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.
The province's Party secretary, Zhao Leji, and Governor Yuan Chunqing were also on hand. All of those present bowed to the statue of the Yellow Emperor.
According to the legend, the Yellow Emperor won a decisive battle against the eastern Yan Di, or Yan Emperor. The latter was actually the star of a ritual that 10,000 people attended in his alleged burial place in Yanling County, Zhuzhou, in Central China's Hunan Province yesterday.
Besides legendary ancestors, respects were also paid to some friends of China. Hundreds of people in Guidong County, in Chenzhou, Hunan, visited the monument to the Flying Tigers, members of the American Voluntary Group.
The group helped the Chinese during World War II (1939-45) and sacrificed their lives when the planes they were flying crashed into the mountains in that county.
Most people used yesterday to pay their respects to departed members of their families.
Although the traditional festival fell on a weekday this year, more than 10,000 people had descended on Babaoshan Cemetery in Beijing before 10 am yesterday, according to the Beijing Evening News. About 400,000 people are expected to visit the cemetery in the coming weekend.
In Shanghai, Fushouyuan Cemetery, one of the city's 43 cemeteries, attracted about 13,000 people yesterday, its deputy general manager, Yi Hua, told China Daily.
On Saturday and Sunday more than 100,000 Shanghai residents traveled to neighboring Suzhou in East China's Jiangsu Province, where many of their relatives are buried.
(Source: China Daily)