|Vietnamese people have for years burned votive papers in the belief that those votive papers are sent to their dead relatives in the afterlife
A number of Vietnamese people send this kind of offerings to dead relatives in the afterlife in the belief that their spirits can live comfortably there and help them in many aspects in return.
However, over the last few years, the time-honored tradition has faced mounting criticism. Some consider the practice a backward superstition that’s incongruous with the modern Vietnamese society. Others argue that the burning of ghost money only causes air pollution and is an ostentatious waste of resources.
In the document, Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu, Standing Vice Chairman of the VBS’s Executive Council, urged Sangha chapters in cities and provinces nationwide to give directions to local monks, nuns, and Buddhist followers to organise celebrations in a civilised, thrifty and non-ostentatious fashion in accordance with the Vietnamese and Buddhist traditions.
Categorising votive paper burning as superstitious, the document also underlines that lectures of pagodas should focus on the preservation of positive points in national customs, and spread the value of compassion, generosity and religious tolerance to the listeners.
Most Venerable Thich Gia Quang, Vice Chairman of the VBS’s Executive Council, affirmed that the practice of burning votive papers, or ghost money, is not a Buddhist custom.
Therefore, the VBS’s policy is to call for eliminating the burning of paper offerings at pagodas, he affirmed.
“Currently, there are still a number of poor people who do not have enough food to eat, while many others use a lot of money for votive paper offerings. It is unreasonable,” stated Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu.
He asked State and local management agencies to join hands to gradually eliminate the practice, especially from the production and trading of ghost money.
Dr Nguyen Ngoc Mai from the Institute for Religious Studies stressed the important role of Buddhist monks and shamans in encouraging people to abolish the practice thanks to their great influence in their community.
Recently, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism issued a directive ordering local authorities to supervise spiritual activities in religious venues in their community to prevent excessive burning of joss papers and incense.VNA