Pets join ancestors in grave-sweepers' devotions
Along with the ancestors being honoured during the Ching Ming grave-sweeping festival, animal lovers are also paying tribute to their dead pets.
As well as the usual consumer products and food items burned to keep the departed contented in the afterlife, shops selling paper offerings are also producing replicas of pet food and chew toys.
'More people raise pets instead of children in Hong Kong nowadays. It's no surprise that there is a market also for animal worshipping,' said pet owner Tam Yuk-suen, a customer at a paper-offering shop in Sai Ying Pun.
Tam bought paper clothing for his ancestors but no animal items because his pet is still alive.
Shop manager Ng Shuk-fong said pet-related items were a recent trend and only made to order at present. But she was considering adding them to the product range next year.
Customers could order all sorts of tailor-made products, such as golf and snooker sets for sports lovers, for less than HK$100, she said.
Prices for the paper products, all from the mainland, have risen 10 to 15 per cent in the past year, along with the rising yuan. Tam said higher labour and material costs also contributed to the rise.
A shop in Sai Wan Ho is selling iPad 2 replicas with a protective case for HK$38 - HK$3 or HK$4 more than last year's iPad 1, although unlike the real thing there is no difference in their functions.
At another shop in Second Street in the same district, the increase is even greater at 30 to 40 per cent.
'All products are imported from the mainland,' manager Ho Chung-kin said. 'It's getting harder to find craftsmen for paper offerings there, not to mention Hong Kong.'
But he said business before the festival remained hectic and he expected a 10 per cent rise in turnover this year.
The owner of another shop, To Ching-shing, supplied a copy of a racecourse to the family of a keen gambler for HK$168.
'Young people tend to choose more tech-savvy and fancy options such as smart phones and MP3 players, whereas the more mature customers look for practical products like clothing and shoes,' To said.
Food items cost the same, HK$20, whether high-end products, from bird's nest, abalone and ginseng, or fast food, such as pizza or a toast and coffee set.
Sneakers labelled ming pai - designer product in Cantonese - sell for HK$18 a pair.