JINAN, April 5 (Xinhua) -- The descendants of Chinese philosopher Confucius on Friday held a memorial ceremony for their ancestor, with the entire process live broadcast by Chinese media.
This was the first time video cameras of media outlets were allowed in the annual family ceremony held in the city of Qufu, east China's Shandong Province. Friday coincided with China's traditional Tomb-Sweeping Day, also known as Qingming Festival.
More than 400 descendants of Confucius from across China and from the Republic of Korea (ROK) attended the event in the Confucius Cemetery, the world's largest family cemetery with over 100,000 tombs.
"The annual ceremony demonstrates the unity of our Confucius descendants," Kung Tsui-chang, the 79th-generation descendant of Confucius in the main line of descent, said while welcoming his clan members.
The ceremony started at 9:19 a.m. with the 400-plus attendants streaming into the forested cemetery in a long procession under the gaze of tourists and reporters. In front of Confucius' tomb, they performed a complex series of rituals that included offering incense and wine and bowing toward the sage's resting place.
While many Chinese families stage similar ancestor-worshiping rituals during the Qingming Festival, the scale and complexity of the ceremony of Confucius descendants, which boast 4 million members across the world, are unparalleled.
This year marks the 2,570th anniversary of Confucius' birth, which will be celebrated in autumn.
Confucius (551-479 B.C.) was an educator and philosopher who founded Confucianism, a school of thought deeply influential in later generations. He was also believed to have set up the first private schools in China to enrol students from different social classes.