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Votive Dongs Must Be 50% Smaller or Twice Bigger Than Real Dongs, State Bank Says

To help citizens better distinguish between Vietnam dong bills for the living and the dead, the State Bank of Vietnam has put forth a draft law detailing specifications replicas must follow.

According to Tuổi Trẻ, the draft law compiled by the State Bank dictates that acts of copying or photographing Vietnamese money must for non-commercial use. Replicated versions must be 50% smaller or 200% larger than bills of the same denomination. While banknote patterns are rampant in Vietnam on everything from lucky envelopes to novelty wallets, only votive bills pose a real risk of confusing users.

State Bank Deputy Governor Đào Minh Tú told the newspaper that the size stipulations regarding toy money and joss banknotes are to deter counterfeiting and other offenses in replicating Vietnamese currencies. The state bank believes the size differences could help citizens detect fake bills more effectively.

This new draft law is not the first time votive money has been targeted by lawmakers. In 2011, Hanoi authorities also put forth a similar proposed law, which suggested votive banknotes be at least 3 centimeters larger or smaller than real versions. It’s unclear if this regulation was written into the municipal policies.

The traditional school of spiritualism in Vietnam believes that burning offerings is a way to provide for deceased relatives. From just votive banknotes at the beginning, the age of modern comforts and consumerism has ushered in new votive items that mirror whichever gadgets are trending in the living society, such as iMacs, villas, and even skimpy bikinis.

In an interview with Người Lao Động, Buddhist Thera Thích Duy Trấn from Liên Hoa Pagoda of Hồ Chí Minh City shared that his pagoda has been discouraging worshippers from burning joss papers for the last 22 years. He added that this practice is not part of any Buddhist scriptures or teachings, despite it frequently being considered Buddhist.

“In the community, people think of all sorts of gimmicks to get money from people so there are so many types of [votive] foreign money and, recently, Vietnamese bills,” he explained in Vietnamese. “Everyone should forget about burning joss papers, banknotes and do more realistic acts instead. Use your money to support victims of typhoons, saltwater intrusions, pandemics or buy stationeries for poor children in the mountains.”

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