'Supplements' for afterlife use
‘Health product’ package a top seller for Qing Ming at Geylang incense shop
Health supplements are popular - even in the next world.Indeed, at incense shop It Tian Heong, a "health product" package is a top-selling item for this year's Qing Ming festival.
Shop owner Ang Chee Kiong said the package, which costs $5 and which includes fish oil and dietary capsules, has been selling like hot cakes since the Chinese New Year period.
"People buy these supplements every day. It's a bestseller," said the 56-year-old, who has been in the business for 30 years.
He added: "It's the first time that we are selling 'supplements' and its uniqueness attracts customers."
Every year, many people flock to Mr Ang's shop in Geylang to buy incense and offerings for the Qing Ming (or Tomb Sweeping) festival.
They will then visit the cemeteries and columbaria with these items in hand to pay respects to their ancestors.
Mr Ang told The New Paper that families usually buy items that their ancestors used when they were still alive.
Mr Ang added: "If your ancestor liked cycling, buy him a bicycle. If he loved travelling, get him a plane!"
Alcohol is another popular item. An offerings package containing Hennessy XO, Bordeaux wine and a packet of cigarettes costs $5 in It Tian Heong.
Mr Ang said: "Some people do not buy alcohol for their ancestors as they are afraid that they might cause trouble in the netherworld after taking it."
Mrs Mary Tan has been patronising Mr Ang's shop for 10 years and spent more than $200 on her last trip there.
The 63-year-old hairdresser said: "The offerings we buy depend on their preference when they are alive. We buy my father's favourite items and it's also a way to remember him."
Her son, Mr Henry Tan, who is in his 40s, was the one who recommended the shop to her.
After putting aside a box of whisky and grabbing a carton of beer, Mr Tan said: "My grandfather is more of a beer person."
He added: "On normal days, he preferred Guinness Stout and on heaty days, he would go for a can of Heineken beer. That was how my grandfather kept his yin and yang in balance."
Other incense shops, like Yoke Lan Teng in Chinatown, are also offering new products.
Its shop owner, Mr Teo Bee Kim, 63, showed TNP a massage chair made last year which costs $8 and compared it with a bigger massage chair made this year which cost $10.
The new design even features a remote control. Mr Teo said: "If there is a new design or feature, we will incorporate it. As much as we want to stick to tradition, we also have to keep up with the latest trends to attract customers."
Another shop in Chinatown, Nam's Supplies, sells paper wheel chairs for $35. Its shop owner, Ms Eng Soo Leng, 63, said: "If they used a wheelchair before passing on, it's obvious that they will need it in the afterlife."
It's the first time that we are selling 'supplements' and its uniqueness attracts customers.
- Mr Ang Chee Kiong, owner of incense shop It Tian Heong