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The Straits Times
Mar 16, 2017
The tradition of burning joss paper has endured for thousands of years, but it has also evolved to keep up with the changing needs of people in this life and the next.
For example, the Sin Chew Daily reported on Thursday (March 16) that a Penang family has had a golden paper Lamborghini costing RM16,800 (S$5,332) made for this year's Qing Ming Festival.
Here's a look at some of the more unusual items people are sending to their relatives in the afterlife:
1. 8M-TALL KING OF HADES EFFIGY
Also from Penang but considerably less modern, this ferocious-looking effigy is the pride of Penang's annual Hungry Ghost Festival celebrations and was featured in an 18-minute documentary made by film-maker Dick Chua last year.
Taking three craftsmen three months to build, the paper giant burns up in all of five minutes.
2. FAKE DESIGNER GOODS
In April last year, luxury fashion brand Gucci sent a letter warning Hong Kong shops selling paper offerings not to make items resembling their products.
Said the manager of one such shop jokingly: "Perhaps we can help send the letter to the nether world, and see how it's received there."
3. TOAST OF THE TOWN
In a bid to promote local culture, the authorities in Tainan, Taiwan, got bakeries to make joss paper toast, reported Apple Daily on Saturday (March 11). It took bakers more than 10 attempts to find the optimal blend of ingredients for toast that will literally taste out of this world.
4. LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK
Penang strikes again - The Star reported in March last year that some filial standouts were eschewing traditional hell notes in favour of a three-dimensional paper model of a bank.
Presumably, their relatives could then withdraw as much money as they wished.
Running with the same idea, others were burning paper petrol stations to complement the paper cars they sent their relatives.
5. AMAZON.COM... FOR THE DEAD
Paper items available on home-grown store Kimzua's website include pool tables, treadmills and refrigerators, meaning your loved ones will continue to lack for nothing in the next life, as long as you are willing to pay.
6. GOING FROM PAPER TO THE REAL THING
Taiwan's Sanlih E-Television reported in February about an attempt to pay respects to one's ancestors gone wrong during the Spring Lantern Festival.
Photos of actual cars going up in flames near a cemetery in Hukou, Taiwan, were posted online, leading some netizens to comment tongue-in-cheek on how times were changing and it was now fashionable for people to burn real cars instead of paper ones.