By Niluksi Koswanage
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Apple's iPad 2 shortage has spread to the afterlife as Chinese families in Malaysia rush to buy paper replicas of the popular new gadget to burn for their dead as part of a centuries-old rite.
During the Qingming festival, also known as the tomb sweeping festival, Chinese communities in Asia honor their ancestors by burning fake money or replicas of luxury items such as flashy cars and designer bags.
The festival, which stems from Confucian teachings of loyalty to family and tradition, is also celebrated widely among the Chinese in Malaysia, who make up a quarter of the 28 million people in the mostly Muslim but multicultural country.
"Some of my customers have dreams where their departed relatives will ask for luxury items including the iPad 2," said prayer item shopkeeper Jeffrey Te as he filled cardboard chests with fake money at his shop on the outskirts of the capital.
"I can only offer them the first iPad model," he added, pointing to shelves stocked with the gadget along with paper iPhones and Samsung Galaxy Tabs.
Te shipped in 300 iPad 2 replica sets from China for the Qingming festival, which has just flown off the shelves and left him struggling to meet demand -- a scenario Apple Inc also faces.
In Te's shop, the first and second generation paper iPads sell at a dollar for 888 gigabyte capacity, an auspicious number in Chinese culture. A basic 16 gigabyte iPad for the living costs $499.
For some Chinese, technological gadgets will not be part of the shopping list for their dead relatives.
"They belong to the older generation. If you give all these so-called iPads, they don't know how to use it," said Thomas Soong, 61, as he set fire to a pile of fake money at his grandmother's grave on the fringes of the Malaysian capital.
"So traditionally we give them shoes, shirts ... all the necessities," he added.
(Reporting by Niluksi Koswanage; Editing by Sugita Katyal)