Once a year during Ching Ming, millions of Chinese people come together to visit the resting place of their ancestors to pay their respects as well as to honour the dearly departed
Also known as Tomb-sweeping Festival in English, relatives and friends would visit the burial ground or columbaria of their late loved ones to clean the graves as well as to provide offerings such as the departed's favourite food, joss sticks, hell notes, and gold bars for the afterlife.
As a Chinese person who celebrates Cheng Beng (as we Hokkiens call it), one of the things I found most intriguing about the festival is the increasingly outlandish paper offerings we'd burn for our ancestors to use in the afterlife
In the past few years, such paper offerings have evolved beyond basic paper necessities to fit in with the times. Aside from everyday items like clothes and shoes as well as luxury goods like Rolex watches, gold jewellery, and branded handbags, you can also find pretty funky stuff like MacBook Pros, sports cars, mansions with servants, safe deposit boxes, lingerie, and even beauty products.
And yep, they're all made of paper.
Without further ado, here are some of the most outlandish (and sometimes, totally unexpected) things Chinese people burn for their ancestors:
1. A new mansion, complete with servants, a private pool, pets, and at least two sports cars
2. Start decorating the new mansion with this furniture starter kit, which comes with a fridge, hi-fi set, washing machine, and a dishwasher they'll probably never use
Let's be real. Chinese people don't use dishwashers; we use it to dry our hand-washed plates.
3. A bedroom set with Burberry-esque bedsheets. Fancy.
4. Amp up their level of comfort with these luxe massagers
5. Tailored suits for the gents, inclusive of designer ties, belts, socks, and matching accessories
7. ... And, er, floral lingerie
8. Shoes of all kinds. Slippers, sandals, running shoes, sneakers, leather shoes, heels... you name it, they have it.
9. High-end designer bags for the Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang... (sorry)
10. It's gold or nothing in these fashion accessory sets, which come with all sorts of jewellery, branded wallets and watches, and credit cards for your ancestors to purchase more stuff
11. A solid safe for your ancestors to keep all their valuables in
12. Don't let your ancestors fall behind in the latest technology with the brand-new MacBook Pro...
13. ... and the latest mobile gadgets, complete with charging cables, earphones, SD cards, and even power banks!
14. Your ancestors need to get around in the afterlife too. How about a luxury car for starters? :D
Don't worry if your ancestors can't drive, the car comes with a personal driver AND road tax!
15. Too basic? Consider this life-sized Lamborghini with a customised number plate...
16. ... Or a life-sized eight-seater?
17. If your late loved one is more of a free spirit, maybe these sweet two-wheelers would be a better option
18. Your ancestors will never have to worry about petrol price hikes, coz - well - they have their own petrol station... :p
19. Travel in the afterlife is not just restricted to land. Check out this swanky yacht:
20. Now everyone can fly in the afterlife, especially if you have your own helicopter...
21. ... Or a private jet!
Bonus - the afterlife flight package includes flight tickets, passports, travel insurance, traveller's cheque books, public transport tickets, and VIP credit cards. Talk about travelling in style!
22. With an eternity ahead, the dead need some entertainment to fill their days. They may have yet to get Netflix, but satellite service and a home theatre system probably work just as well...
23. Your ancestors will definitely appreciate having these playing cards and mahjong sets when their friends come over
24. Guess you now know what to burn for an ancestor who loves going to horse races...
25. OMG they have concert tickets. TO WATCH LATE SINGERS.
26. Just because they're dead, doesn't mean there's no occasion to pretty up. Here's a vintage beauty kit for your poh poh who can't live without her bedak:
28. Plus an extra comprehensive range of SK-III for both your female and male ancestors
29. There's also an assortment of pets for departed loved ones who were pet lovers (pet food included!)
30. Aww... the paper effigy makers have also created toys for those who have passed on too young. :')
31. Cigarettes (or cigars and tobacco pipes) for ancestors who couldn't quite shake off the habit in life
32. Better make sure their "first aid kit" of traditional ointments and medicines are fully stocked
33. Guys. There's a whole selection of food and drink made out of paper too! For example, Milo and biscuits for tea time...
34. Canned drinks (yep, alcoholic ones included)
35. High quality liquor with ginseng and abalone
36. Roasted meats for your ancestors to feast on day after day
37. Sushi and lobsters and miscellaneous seafood
38. There's also McDonald's. With fries and pies and stuff.
39. Oh, they have chocolates too. Our ancestors sure are living the high life, y'all.
40. After all that delicious food and drink, here's a dental kit for your ancestors to clean their teeth (both real and/or fake)
41. If you're worried that they'll run out of supplies before the next Ching Ming, you might wanna send over some shop lots too
42. And finally, a bank so they'll never run out of funds
What other outlandish things have you seen people burn for Ching Ming? Share it with us in the comments section below!
For centuries, millions of Chinese have called Malaysia home since their ancestors settled here as early as the 15th century: