Descendants hold memorial ceremony for Confucius in east China city Monday, April 6, 2009

More than 300 descendants of Confucius from across the world commemorated the sage on Sunday, Qingming Festival, or Tomb-Sweeping Day, in Qufu in east China's Shandong Province.

The commemorative ritual, exclusive to Confucius descendants as a family sacrifice, was one day after a grand commemorative ceremony staged by the local municipal government of Qufu, the sage's birthplace, one day earlier on China's traditional Tomb-Sweeping Day.

The descendants, all of whom bear Confucius' family name "Kong", followed their masters of ceremony to kowtow and serve offerings and incense sticks to his tomb.

"Kowtou is the traditional way to commemorate and to pay our respects to our ancestors," said Kong Zhong, vice chairman of the World Federation of Confucius' Descendants.

The ritual was held in the ancestral cemetery of Confucius family, known as Confucius Forest, listed with Confucius Mansion and Confucius Temple as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1994.

The participants mainly came from nine provinces and municipalities, including Shandong, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Beijing. Others came from Britain, Switzerland and other foreign countries.

Historical records showed commemorative ceremony of Confucius could date back to 478 B.C., the second year after the sage passed away.

Qufu, home to Confucius, resumed in the 1980s to hold a ceremony annually on Sept. 28 to commemorate the sage's birth.

Confucius, China's famed thinker and educator, was born in 551 B.C. in Qufu. His theories held sway as orthodox ideology in China for more than 2,000 years. He has at least three million descendants around the globe.  

Confucius Temple Spring Festival Fair held in Nanjing
Editor: Mo Hong'e
Source: Xinhua