Immortal protection: COVID-19 themed offerings for Qing Ming Festival in Malaysia

RAWANG, Malaysia: Paper masks and goggles are among offerings that Chinese Malaysians will burn to mark Qing Ming Festival on Sunday (Apr 4), hoping that their ancestors can use them to fight COVID-19 in the afterlife.

Qing Ming, or Tomb Sweeping Day, is one of the most important dates for Chinese communities and is observed across East and Southeast Asia. During the festival, it is customary to offer prayers, sweep loved ones’ graves and burn paper models of items that could be useful in the afterlife.

These can range from money and shoes to yachts and planes – but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the addition of virus-themed offerings.

During Qingming, it is customary for Chinese to offer prayers, sweep their loved ones' graves

During Qing Ming, it is customary to offer prayers, sweep loved ones’ graves and burn paper models of items that could be useful in the afterlife. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

A shop in the town of Rawang, just outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, is selling a set of paper masks with small boxes carrying pictures of goggles, a bottle of hand sanitiser and a thermometer.

“We want our ancestors to realise the importance of wearing a mask during the pandemic, so we introduced this,” store owner Jacky Hoi told AFP, holding a packet containing the items.

He believes the set will prove popular in Malaysia as it “will let our ancestors have a chance to fight the pandemic”.

READ: Visitors to Mandai Columbarium urged to check real-time traffic conditions to avoid Qing Ming jams

Hoi is missing one important thing – a paper vaccine – something he says that he is yet to come across when ordering the items from China.

Jacky Hoi showcases some of his store's Qingming offerings

Jacky Hoi showcases some of his store’s Qing Ming offerings. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

Qingming offerings can range from money and shoes to yachts and planes

Qing Ming offerings can range from money and shoes to yachts and planes. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

Qing Ming will be observed in Malaysia for the first time since 2019, as activities related to the festival were cancelled last year due to a lockdown.

Rules will be implemented to prevent infections, including a cap on the number of people allowed to take part and a time limit on prayers.

Malaysia has been hit by a new COVID-19 wave in recent months. The number of cases has started to decline, although health authorities are still reporting about 1,000 infections and several deaths every day.

Hoi believes the Covid-themed offerings will prove popular in Malaysia, where a quarter of the

Jacky Hoi believes the COVID-themed offerings will prove popular in Malaysia. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

Chinese in Malaysia will be observing "Tomb Sweeping Day" for the first time since 2019,

Chinese Malaysians will be observing Qing Ming for the first time since 2019, as activities related to the festival were cancelled last year due to a COVID-19 lockdown. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

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