Old traditions well applied to new problems
Updated: 2013-02-15 03:15
By Hu Yongqi in Anqing, Anhui (China Daily)
The far-flung corners of Anhui province are turning to their unique traditions to commemorate ancestors and get advise on real-life concerns.
Tucked away on a snow-capped mountain, people in Yuexi county in west Anhui province prepare a special feast before the family enjoys a year-end dinner.
Dishes are placed on a clean table, candles lit, chopsticks lined up and cups filled with rice wine.
A pig's head with two pieces of yellow paper stuck in its nose presents an eye-catching spectacle.
But this is for the deceased, not the living.
In Huangwei township, fathers and children follow tradition by burning paper in a fire pit or a basin, with firecrackers bursting in the blue sky to form a circle or create cartoon characters on the eve of Chinese New Year.
Wives use this time to cook dinner for the family.
The county, with a population of 400,000, sees thousands leave each year to work in coastal areas. An estimated 90 percent return home for Spring Festival.
Migrant workers in the county believe feng shui might be of some benefit as they set out on life's journey.
According to a 2010 survey by the National Bureau of Statistics, migrant workers born after 1980 make up 58 percent of those who return to the county every year.
About 45 percent of 6,000 surveyed migrant workers, all born in the 1980s, said they were not satisfied with their current jobs and were not confident of job security.
Feng shui experts have reported a surge in business over the last year as more and more migrant workers seek advice regarding future prospects.
Hu Shifu, a 41-year-old feng shui master, has been running a small consulting office in the township for 10 years.
He saw a 20 percent increase in young clients over the last year.
"Many people are leaving for other cities to find work and earn more than they could at home. Single people in their 20s and 30s are under huge pressure to get married or raise a child and come to me to consult about their futures."
Du Qianping, 31, worked in Shenzhen, the industrial hub in Guangdong province, for seven years. Du accepted the suggestion by the feng shui expert to visit his uncle's home.
"Last year, I had a lot of trouble in Shenzhen and my friends recommended talking with a feng shui expert," Du said.
Before New Year's Eve, Du called his uncle to wait for him at home. "Otherwise, it may be an ominous sign if he is there on my visit," Du said.
Hu said the younger generation of migrant workers may have believed feng shui was just superstition when they were at school. But now, it is considered a way to avoid unnecessary trouble.
"Most new clients were in their 20s or 30s, born after 1980, compared with the fact that most clients were older than 40 a year ago."
Du was not taking any chances. "I will pay attention to what the feng shui master told me, just to remind me to keep safe," Du said.