KEY POINTS

  • They were planning to sell the ashes to a local family for $7,800 to $11,000
  • However, the pact fell through as the family didn't agree on the "marriage"
  • "Ghost marriage" ritual is prevalent in many parts of China

Three workers of a funeral home in China allegedly tried to steal the remains of a dead woman to perform the banned "ghost marriage" ritual. Their plan was to sell the stolen ashes to a local family. 

The bizarre incident happened in the Shandong province of Eastern China, reported South China Morning Post. The ashes belonged to a famous social media personality who took her own life during a live stream in October.

One of the workers, identified as Shao, switched the ashes after cremation, while another person, surnamed Leo, took it out of the funeral facility. The third accused, surnamed Zhang, struck an agreement with the buyer, the report said, quoting local media The Beijing News.

The "ghost marriage" ritual is a superstitious practice prevalent in many parts of China. It is a marriage in which one or both parties are dead. The family of a dead man usually finds a spouse — a dead woman — for him. Her ashes are then buried with that of the man as the belief is that a lonely grave would hurt the prosperity of the family.

The three funeral home workers were reportedly planning to sell the ashes for 50,000-70,000 Chinese yuan ($7,800 to $11,000). However, Zhang's wife told investigators that the buyer, whose identity was not released, did not "agree to the marriage."

The deceased woman, identified by her screen name Luoxiaomaomaozi, killed herself by drinking a bottle of pesticide during a live stream on Chinese video-sharing app Douyin in October, said reports. Though the woman was rushed to the hospital, she was declared dead on arrival. In her last video, she said she was suffering from depression. 

Authorities detained the three suspects after they came to know about the theft. The woman's remains were recovered and returned to her family in the Hunan province.

This isn't the first time the authorities are launching a crackdown on ghost marriages. Last year, the ashes of a 22-year-old woman were sold by her own family for thousands of yuan to conduct the ritual. 

Another man was sentenced to death in February for killing two mentally-disabled women before selling their bodies to rural families for ghost marriages.

Urn Representation. Photo: Pixabay