Video filmed in Daqing, China, showed the powerful tornado lifting burnt pieces of joss paper, which are used in the ancient ceremonies, up to 160 feet high.
Some bystanders positioned themselves close to the weather phenomenon while others, including the person who filmed it, kept a safe distance.
At one point a nearby pile of debris erupted into flames but there appeared no danger of the blaze spreading.
No-one was believed to be injured by the whirlwind.
Footage of the fast-moving vortex was captured during the Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, which takes place in the first week of April.
The centuries-old tradition, which takes place over three days, is observed by cleaning up ancestors graves and making offerings to their spirits.
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