Vietnamese, whether living in the country or overseas, can now offer their ancestors everything from boiled chicken to a bottle of vodka at just a click of a mouse, The Ky Son-Lac Hong Vien cemetery in Hanoi said about its recently introduced service.
The site, inaugurated last Friday, is said to be the first ever of its kind in the world.
It offers a range of services to people who have relatives or friends buried in its cemetery, including trimming scrubs around the grave to making offerings on occasions like full moon, New Year, Tomb Sweeping Day, and Ghost Festival.
Besides various packages, the site also offers various products like a tray of five fruits, popcorn, fake currency bills, clothes, cigarettes, vodka, and beer.
After performing the ritual on the required day and time, the cemetery will send an email to customers with photos and a video as proof.
The new service has elicited a mixed response.
“With this package, wherever people live, they can perform their duty to the decreased,” Viet, a resident of Long Bien, Hanoi, said.
But others said asking someone else to perform the rituals meant merely fulfilling one’s duty rather than expressing one’s respect to the deceased.
“Vietnam attaches importance to worshipping ancestors, especially on special days like Lunar New Year or death anniversary,” Huong of Hanoi’s Cau Giay District said.
“If you turn on the computer and purchase online products there, you cannot show your appreciation to the dead. This service does not suit Vietnamese traditions and customs.”
An, who lives in Ba Dinh District, said he found it convenient but unnecessary.
“If you burn incense and give offerings online but never show up in front of your ancestor’s grave, you are not really sincere.”
Tran Tuan Anh, deputy manager of Global Trade And Investment Joint Stock Company which runs the cemetery, said the service made it easy for people living far away, especially abroad, who want to show their respect to family members.
Burning incense, joss, and votive paper, and making offerings for the decreased on special occasions is a common practice in Vietnam to propitiate the spirits of the deceased.