People had special appreciation for deceased and cemeteries since the earliest times of human evolution. For centuries people make pilgrimages to the gravesites of important religious figures and they honor their ancestors. Different cultures and religions have different and sometimes unique ways to honor their dead.
The veneration of the dead, including one's ancestors, is based on love and respect for the deceased. In some cultures, it is related to beliefs that the dead have a continued existence, and may possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Some groups venerate their direct, familial ancestors. Certain faith communities, venerate saints as well as pray for departed souls .
In Europe, Asia, and Oceania, and in some African and Afro-Diasporic cultures, the goal of ancestor veneration is to ensure the ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living, and sometimes to ask for special favors or assistance. The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values, such as filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. Ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.
While honoring the dead is important part of human civilization there is also unhealthy obsession with death and especially cemeteries. Taphophilia is described as morbid or abnormal interest in graves and cemeteries. Term “Taphophile" describes an individual who has abnormal passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries, funeral, epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, and history of deaths.
Someone may wonder what all this has to do with martial arts? In the recent years, like a wild fire, in kung fu community spread a custom of visiting gravesites of kung fu teachers of the past and taking photos which are later spread over social network. Some people go so far that they try to “pay their respect” to the ancestors” who not only have no relation to them what so ever but do that in a way that is not originally part of their religion, of course all that photographed or recorded on video and again spread over a social media.
While it is totally normal to honor immediate deceased relatives and your blood lineage it is completely abnormal to honor someone who is not blood related. There are of course special cases when people who had great impact on society and people’s lives become honored by majority of people in some area or country , but these are really rare cases. Of course, someone may have strong feelings towards some kung fu master of the past, although it is very strange, and someone may have the desire or urge to show appreciation to that kung fu master. Let’s go even further and say taking photo or a video of the process of honoring the dead on the gravesite is normal and someone wants to have a memory of the event but why sharing it on social media, why sharing it to large number of total strangers? Is that a form of exhibitionism?
Interestingly, people who so eagerly share photos or videos of themselves on the gravesites of kung fu masters do not share the same on the gravesites of their own deceased, parent, grandparents or other relatives! Why? Is it because they feel it is wrong? Or maybe they cannot gain anything from such action? Putting a picture of gravesite of your own relative on social media is not something considered normal, usual and socially acceptable, at least not in most places of the world. Why would be any different with a grave of some total stranger who practiced kung fu?
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Anyway, it is not a custom for students to perform ceremonies or honor their kung fu teacher or kung fu ancestors on the gravesites. That is a responsibility of the family members and no one else, so if someone wants to follow the tradition and really honor kung fu ancestors, let their blood relatives and descendants to do that.
So, is there a large number of Taphophiles involved in kung fu or is something else in question? Simple answer is, people who share their photos or videos on gravesites are worst kind of people. These people usually have abnormal fascination with graves or dead but they simply use these for the purpose of selfmarketing. “Look how humble I am” , ‘’ I do what others don’t , I honor my kung fu ancestor” , “Look I am on the final resting place of XYZ master,(while most of the others never came and never will come)” , is usual message behind these photos and videos. And that is all about this subject. Once more it can be concluded that in a chase for money and fame people have no moral or ethical boundaries and will do anything to promote them self , they don’t even leave dead to rest in peace.