Vietnamese turn to online services for ancestor worship

By Anh Duy   March 31, 2020 | 10:12 pm PT
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many Hanoi families use online ancestor worship services to conduct ceremonies and pray on their behalf.

People perform important rituals to worship ancestors during the Qingming or Ching Ming tomb- sweeping festival, on the 13th of the third lunar month, which falls on April 5 this year.

But constrained by the outbreak, some families have ordered food items online to make offerings and hired people to worship at the cemetery.

Every year Nguyen Thi Duyen of Hanoi's Cau Giay District takes her grandchildren to cemeteries to visit deceased family members’ graves at the festival.

But with the pandemic still raging, she visited a website last week to buy a tray of fruit, incense and joss paper for around VND500,000 ($21) and hired people to take the tray to the grave and make offerings to the ancestors. The service provider will also tidy up the grave for Duyen.

"At first I did not feel secure about letting other people worship my ancestors. But I thought that since my intention is sincere, my ancestors will not blame their descendants for this."

She said her family members would also gather to worship at home.

Hoang Oanh of Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District, another customer of online worship services, said to prepare the food and other necessary items she would have to come in contact with many people at the wet market. So she and her husband chose the service provider, she said.

Oanh has many choices since the supplier has a range of food trays with many different options and at different prices, she said.

"I have only seen the service in other countries and I did not expect to see it in Vietnam. At this time, when people avoid going out, this service is convenient."

Even though Qingming is still days away, many families have been preparing to visit cemeteries since last week.

Tran Tuan Anh, general director of a business that has been offering this service for several years, said most Vietnamese living abroad use the service before Tet (Lunar New Year holiday) or Full Moon in July when they cannot come to the country to offer prayers themselves.  

The number of customers has increased now due to the restrictions on travel because of the outbreak, he added.

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