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Vietnamese families turn to online ancestor worship services amidst COVID-19 pandemic

14:23 | 02/04/2020

Numbers of families in the capital of Hanoi take advantage of social platforms to order offering items and hire people to worship at the cemetery in their stead, VNE reported.

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Many families orders foods and other offerings online this year while self-isolating at home (Photo: VNE)

The Qingming or Ching Ming tomb, or sweeping festival falls is an annually-held festival in Vietnam, which falls on the 13th of the third lunar month (April 5 this year). On this day, Vietnamese people often perform important rituals to worship ancestors, including taking a trip to family members’ graves, and prepping offering foods to place on the altar.

But constrained by the complicated outbreak, this year some families have resorted to online services to make offerings and even have some strangers pray at the cemetery on their behalf.

Every year Nguyen Thi Duyen of Hanoi's Cau Giay District takes her grandchildren to cemeteries to visit deceased family members’ graves at the festival.

But with the pandemic still raging, she visited a website last week to buy a tray of fruit, incense and joss paper for around VND500,000 ($21) and hired people to take the tray to the grave and make offerings to the ancestors. The service provider will also tidy up the grave for Duyen.

"At first I did not feel secure about letting other people worship my ancestors. But I thought that since my intention is sincere, my ancestors will not blame their descendants for this."

She said her family members would also gather to worship at home.

vietnamese families turn to online ancestor worship services amidst covid 19 pandemic

An employee of a company offering ancestor-worship services displays a tray of food to be offered to ancestors during the upcoming Qingming festival and burns paper joss for a customer at a cemetery in northern Hoa Binh Province. (Photo: VNE)

Hoang Oanh of Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District, another customer of online worship services, said to prepare the food and other necessary items she would have to come in contact with many people at the wet market. So she and her husband chose the service provider, she said.

Oanh has many choices since the supplier has a range of food trays with many different options and at different prices, she said.

"I have only seen the service in other countries and I did not expect to see it in Vietnam. At this time, when people avoid going out, this service is convenient."

Even though Qingming is still days away, many families have been preparing to visit cemeteries since last week.

Tran Tuan Anh, general director of a business that has been offering this service for several years, said most Vietnamese living abroad use the service before Tet (Lunar New Year holiday) or Full Moon in July when they cannot come to the country to offer prayers themselves.

The number of customers has increased now due to the restrictions on travel because of the outbreak, he added.

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