Hong Kong, one of the densest population centers in the world, with only 30 square miles and home to more than a million people, is in the midst of a crisis: where to put the dead?
As the population grows older and there are more deaths per year, space is at a premium, reports the Associated Press.
Back in the ’60s, facing a similar space problem, the government encouraged cremation over traditional burial. Over the last 50 years, the cremation rate has reached 90%.
Now depositories for the dead’s ashes, known as columbaria, are themselves running out of room. While some Hong Kong residents have gone the route of spreading ashes in public parks and the seaside, the mainstream custom is to have a physical place to visit their ancestors.
This is particularly important on special holidays, where family members bring money, food and other offerings to their burial site.
To alleviate the problem, both the private and public organizations are offering novel ways for families to pay respects. The government has set up a memorial website, where families can leave virtual offerings.
Meanwhile, a laboratory has been able, through intense heat, to turn the remains of loved ones into gemstones that families can keep at home or even wear as jewelry.