Covid votive papers a new trend this Parents Day

By Long Nguyen   August 20, 2021 | 09:30 pm PT
Covid votive papers a new trend this Parents Day
A replica set of hand sanitizer, mask and Covid-19 vaccine sold on Facebook. Photo courtesy of My Nguyen.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many people to prepare for Parents Day by buying paper replicas of vaccines and face masks for their ancestors.

Besides the usual jewelry, cars, cellphones, luxury villas, and cash, makers of votive papers have this time come up with replicas of pandemic-related items like masks and even vaccines.

On many Facebook groups, people post photos of replicas of syringes and the Pfizer vaccine and colorful face masks, attracting much interest.

Vietnamese families have a tradition of making offerings of earthly possessions made in replica to ancestors during this festival. The belief is that, when burnt, the offerings will reach the deceased in the netherworld on Parents Day, known as the Yulanpen (Vu Lan) Festival (August 22 this year).

It is an occasion to thank and pay homage to parents and ancestors and to help 'wandering souls.'

"I cannot visit my parent's graves, but I have bought some paper replicas of clothes and face masks for them," Hanoi housewife Nguyen Thu Trang said, adding she would burn them this weekend.

The pandemic has also forced people to prepare for the festival by buying these products online instead of going to stores like they usually do.

In the last few days in many Facebook groups and online sellers have been offering many traditional food and votives.

In Hanoi, Nguyen Thuy Hang said she ordered votive paper products, including a house, clothes and mobile phones, from an online shop a week ago.

"I was worried the delivery would take time because of the pandemic, so I ordered in advance. This is the first time I have bought votives online."

On Hanoi’s Hang Ma Street, famous for stores selling joss papers and votive products, many have shut down or moved online to survive.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Loan, a shop owner on the street, said: "We have sold none in the last few months. This festival should be a prime period, but only a few shoppers have come."

She added that online most clients buy smaller items, "not as big as what they bought in the past."

Due to the social distancing in many localities, people must resort to online celebrations to pay obeisance to their ancestors.

Several cemeteries are offering packages at prices of up to VND2 million ($87.55) comprising an offering ceremony, a food tray, fruits, incense, and grave cleaning.

The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha has told followers and pagodas to celebrate the festival virtually and avoid gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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