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.
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”.
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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.
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.