Qing Ming festival goes high fashion

Paper replicas of handbag-and-shoes sets are among the huge variety of offerings available for the Qing Ming, or Tomb Sweeping, Festival.

GEORGE TOWN: Haute couture paper dresses in different styles, shapes and colours are the latest rage for this Qing Ming season, pushing Chinese prayer paraphernalia shops in Penang to stock up although the festival is still two weeks away.

Besides dresses, other sought-after paper replica items include matching hats and umbrellas, as well as shoes, says Eng Ong Heong Trading shop owner Angeli Choo, 47.

Choo, who runs the business with husband G.H. Teh, 47, said customers started to pre-order the locally-made dresses earlier than previous years.

"Our customers would request the kind of designs they want for the dresses, and I would tell the supplier.

"This year, I ordered about 200 pieĀ­ces and they're all sold out," she said, adding that only two pieces of the dresses which were uniquely made and customised were left.

Qing Ming or Chinese All Souls Day can be celebrated 10 days before and 10 days after the actual day which falls on April 5.

The festival will see Chinese families paying homage and burning paper replica items for their departed loved ones in the netherworld as an offering.

Besides modern dresses, attractive nyonya kebayas, which are three-dimensional, were also among other "hot" items on sale.

Choo said it was also a norm for her shop to receive customers from Indonesia and Singapore, as well as Westerners who are intrigued and amused by the various types of prayer paraphernalia.