For Chinese, no escape from government control even when six feet under

Elaborate private funeral rites, which can last days with chanting monks, dancing strippers, and wailing mourners, are now banned in parts of Wenzhou, a southeastern coastal city of nine million.

Starting this week, wakes must be state-sanctioned. Families can choose from luxury, mid-range or discount government funeral packages. Even the number of floral wreaths in each mourning hall are now capped at five, and a new 24-hour funeral consulting service has launched for help on all things death-related, such as body transport and storage.

The Chinese government has long waged war on extravagant funerals, but it is tough in a place that takes the dead and dying very seriously – improper burial rites are thought to bring bad luck to the living.