Rawang, Malaysia, April 1 2021: Ethnic Chinese minorities will be observing the Qingming festival this year after a break in tradition last year thanks to a lock-down caused by the pandemic.
Activities on “Tomb Sweeping Day” include burning offering at the graves of departed community members to help them survive in the afterlife. This year, the coronavirus and its associated paraphernalia of safety equipment; paper masks, hand-sanitizer and thermometers, are popular items to feature in the festival.
Various parts of East and Southeast Asia will observe the Qingming holiday which will fall on Sunday this year, by offering prayers, sweeping graves of their loved ones and burning paper models of items useful in the afterlife. Traditionally, these things range from money and shoes to yachts and planes, but the pandemic has led to the addition of virus-themed offerings to ensure immortal protection.
“We want our ancestors to realize the importance of wearing a mask during the pandemic, so we introduced this,” store owner Jacky Hoi.
Hoi believes the set will prove popular in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where about a quarter of the country’s 32 million inhabitants are ethnic Chinese.
SOPs will be implemented to prevent spread of infections, including limiting the number of people allowed to take part and time limits on prayers.
Like other parts of the world, Malaysia was hit by a new Covid-19 wave in recent months. The number of cases has started to decline, although health authorities are still reporting around 1,000 infections and several deaths every day.
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