Items burned as offerings to ancestors on August 28.
July 15 on the lunar calendar (August 28 on the solar calendar this year) is the day when Vietnamese people remember their departed ancestors. Many buy votive items to burn as offerings, as they believe their ancestors can use them in the afterlife when they are burned on this day.
Votive items like houses, motorcycles and other products, mainly made from paper but also from cloth and burned as offerings to ancestors, are on sale in Hang Ma Street in Hanoi’s Old Quarter but sales are low. According to shop owners they are on display so that customers know they are available but few choose to buy.
Votive items made from cloth are from VND30,000 ($1.30) to VND50,000($2.20). A paper house is about VND80,000 ($3.50) to VND150,000 ($6.70), while paper vehicles or electronic items are about VND30,000 ($1.30) to VND70,000 ($3.10). However, paper clothing are more likely to be sold.
Monks at pagodas, however, discourage the practice, explaining that it’s not part of Buddhist beliefs and is just a Vietnamese custom. They advise people to discontinue the custom because it is a waste the money and can cause fires.
Photos by Hoang Phong