Ghosts set for a disappointment as month of the dead looms in Vietnam

By Ngoc Thanh   August 23, 2017 | 04:51 am PT
The living are not paying for 'luxury' paper replicas this year to burn and send to the afterlife.

Lying 30 kilometers (19 miles) northeast of Hanoi, Bac Ninh Province is home to the biggest votive paper making center in northern Vietnam, Dao Tu Village. Normally, the village is working overtime at this time of year to supply wholesale vendors with replica banknotes and other offerings that people burn as offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival. But the story is quite different this year.


Locals usually buy paper replicas of anything ranging from private jets to luxury villas for the Hungry Ghost Festival to send to the afterlife for their ancestors to use. But this year, stocks aren't exactly flying off the shelves. 


“We've only been selling traditional products so far this year. Buyers have lost their taste for ‘luxury items’ like cars and motorbikes,” the owner of one shop said.


Nguyen Van Tam uses a machine to make votive papers. “One machine can do the job of ten people and the end product looks better," he said. But Nguyen Van Luan, a local official, said machinery has caused supply to exceed demand, and that has led to high inventories in recent years.


Airplane parts at a man named Thoai’s home. His family is famous for creating new products that are made to order, but this year people have lost interest in items such as paper cameras, guns, trucks and ice skates.


“Our products are diverse but customers have dried up,” the owner of this shop said.


Many families said they have products in stock but sales have been slow.


Minh (right), a vendor in Nam Dinh Province, said he used to visit Dao Tu Village once a day to stock up, but sales have been so slow this year that he's just going twice a week.

go to top