NEWS reports linking the annual Qing Ming festival to a spike in dengue cases have resulted in a rise in the sale of environmentally friendly joss stick urns in Penang.
Shopkeeper Ang Siew Siew said biodegradable urns had been selling like hot cakes for the past few weeks.
“People are now opting for biodegradable items as they are more health conscious.
“This is something new for Qing Ming this year.
“The biodegradable urns are made of the same material used for paper egg trays and they decompose easily.
“The price of each urn is also quite affordable at RM5.80,” said Ang when met at Eng Chin Heong Sdn Bhd shop in Kimberley Street.
Penang Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh recently urged the Chinese to use environmentally friendly incense urns during Qing Ming.
“The urns are usually left at the graveyards when Qing Ming is over and they become breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes.”
Other than burning joss sticks, candles, hell notes and joss paper for their ancestors, the Chinese will burn other paper offerings.
A check at religious paraphernalia shops in Penang showed that replicas of bungalows, yachts, superbikes, sports cars, and even private jets were in demand this year.
The popular choices for women are paper cheongsam, nyonya kebaya, evening gowns, hats and scarves.
Eng Ong Heong Trading shop owner Angeli Choo said some Chinese believe that burning the luxury items for their departed loved ones would ensure they would have a better life in the afterworld.
The prices of the paper items available at the shop in Burmah Road range from RM1 to RM400.
Qing Ming is a tradition that has been observed for over 2,500 years.
The festival, which falls on April 4 this year, will see family members visiting graveyards of their ancestors and loved ones.
The festival is observed within 10 days before and 10 days after the actual date.