HUNG NGUYEN MANH1
… be continued for section 1:
Ceremony to Pray for a Successful Fish-Catching Season
Contrary to the midland people who observe the “Mountain inaugurating” ceremony, people in the sea region celebrate the ceremony “to pray for a successful fishcatching season”6. The village appoints a representative to bring the offerings to the temple of the whale, or to the temples of the Genie of the Eastern Sea and the Genie of the Southern Sea to burn joss sticks and pray for “a quiet sky and a calm sea” and “fishing-boats filled up with fish”, then a fishing-boat is sent to the sea to cast its nest. In that first haul, people choose the biggest fish to worship the Genie and set free another one by dropping it into the sea to perform the action called: “Release a bird and set free a fish, Penalties and offences are left to God”.
For people living in the coastal areas of Thừa Thiên and Huế, the Spring festivals are closely related to ordinary life just like the ceremony to ask for a good catch of fish celebrated11 at the Thái Dương Hạ village.
Each year the worshipping ceremony takes place in the afternoon of the 11th day of the first lunar month, right at the courtyard of the communal house (the previous day being the wrestling festival of Sình village) and lasts until midnight when the ceremony to ask for a good catch of fish begins. At this time, all the boat owners who dress themselves trimly, with black tunics, white pans, and red turbans, have missioned an elder fisherman to read the invocation.
At about 5:00AM in the morning of the following day, games such as casting nets, scooping out shrimps are organized. At first the old fisherman prays God to grant the village much peace and prosperity, then he beats three rolls of drum to inaugurate the ceremony.
An old white-haired elder fisherman, along with two boat owners, come to the altar to officiate. At that same moment, another old fisherman, who stands at the base of the altar, starts to throw gifts and coins to the courtyard for the children to compete with one another to collect such coins. Right after that, a solidly woven bamboo boat with figurines of fishrman on it, is carried by younger fishermen who run and encircle the band of children to symbolize the scene of netting a shoal of fish eating the bait. The emblematic fish strive to get out of the net while the boat owners do their best to whoop the fish and try to catch a few of them to offer to the village presiding genius.
Then they take the emblematic to the market to sell then. The market is set out at a corner of the courtyard of the commual house. After selling the fish, the fishermen return to the spot on which is set up the altar to share out the money. The ceremony is now considered as completed but the festival still continue.
Ceremony to Spay for Spring-Likeness
In the first days of Tết, people observe a ceremony to pray for Spring-likeness (i.e. for goodness and freshness in all activities of Man, and also for Nature and everything to thrive) and to inform the deities about the petitions and wishes of the villagers and asking the deities to bless them.
The ceremony to pray for spring-likeness6 is organized at the temple, or at a sacred or spacious place on which people can observe a number of customs and games reproducing life in the past and creating a fresh and happy collective atmosphere.
The organizational form of this ceremony may vary depending on the place it is organized. It is particularly noteworthy at the Vĩnh Phú ancestral land- a land that still keeps many vestiges and customs of the ancient Vietnamese in the first days when the nation was built.
The ceremony to pray for many young and strong men with the customs of robbing the “dò” (Piece of bamboo symbolizing the male organ) and the “kén” (A spathe symbolizing the female organ). With a significance similar to that of the ceremony to pray for Spring-likeness, the ceremony to pray for many young and strong men takes place every year on the 3rd day of Tết at Gia Thanh village (Phong Châu district).
The offerings include 12 square glutinous rice cakes, a chicken, along with joss sticks, betel and alcohol. After praying to the genie, the master of ceremonies goes to the temple door and shouts aloud: “In this new year, we pray the deities to give to our village many young and strong men, to make our villagers’ families prosperous, to provide our young men with many talents and to bring prosperity to our village”.
In this ceremony to ask for many young men, people play the games of “staging a pig procession” and “robbing the bamboo piece symbolizing the male organ” in a very seething manner. The pig is bred by the sub-hamlet chief for worshipping the deities. When comes the holiday, all the male persons come to the sub-hamlet’s house to wash the pig, put it on a palankeen with a roof and stage a procession called procession to “take Mr. Cau to the Tro temple”. After that, the villagers gather to kill the pig and organize the feast.
“Dò” is a piece of bamboo of about 13cm long (symbolizing the male organ) planted into a bamboo pole buried at the temple courtyard. Once the ceremony is over and when the gongs resound, everyone rush to the two bamboo poles striving their best to snatch the “dò” as they believe that whoever gets it, his family would have “many young and strong men and would be prosperous” – particularly with regard to childless people.
The ceremony to pray for many young and strong men is observed at Lương Đài hamlet, Bồ Sao village (Vĩnh Lạc) on the 6th and 7th of the first lunar month with a rather different form.
Every year, in the morning of the 6th Tết day, all the families that had a boy in the old year have to bring offerings to the village temple to worship, the deities hoping that in the new year the village shall have many more young and strong men.
In the particular case of the Dị Nâu village (Tam Thanh district), the villagers also celebrate on the 4th day of Tết a ceremony aimed at praying for more strong and young men through the custom of “snatching the kén” (kén is a Vietnamese word symbolizing the female organ or the copulation).
Since very early in the morning, the sub-hamlets’ people already bring their offerings and trays of food to the temple to worship. At 8:00AM everybody in the village is present, including the officials and village elders who will represent the village to worship. The ceremony is over at exactly noontime when the master of the ceremonies steps out to the threshold of the temple to sedately read the instruction for “kén snatching”.
The sets of “kén” are hung on 2 bamboo poles planted right at the middle of the temple courtyard. On each pole are hung 36 sets of “kén” each one of them consists of a spathe with a slash at the middle called “long spathe” and in the slash is inserted a short pestle made of “vông” wood – called the “bell-stick”. Everybody jostle one another out striving to snatch the set of “kén” hoping to be lucky throughout the new year.
People also have a ceremony to pray for an abundance of rice which is celebrated by a game called “Hú tùng dí” (shouting the Hú tùng dí onomatopoeia) at Vi Cương and Triệu Phú villages (Phong Châu district) on every 6th day of the first lunar month to pray to the genie hoping to have “plenty of rice and good crops”. During the ceremony the game “Hú tùng dí” is performed in a funny manner. Each village chooses 3 young men, each one of them holds a gilded shoulder pole having on each one of its extremities a small bundles of paddy and two handfuls of sticky rice wrapped in maranta leaves. They are all dressed up and wear very nice turbans, and they make a tour around the temple courtyard running and shouting “Hú tùng dí?”, “Hú tùng dí?”. The villagers join them in the shouting. After that, they go into the temple, line themselves horizontally on the two sides of the vestibule facing the altar of the genie. Then, they dance with their shoulder poles to the cadence of the gongs and drums while shouting “Hú tùng dí?”, “Hú tùng dí?”. Everybody also dance with them. After three dances, the game master throws paddy and sticky rice for everybody to snatch to secure luck.
1 Associate Professor HUNG NGUYEN MANH, Doctor in Phylosophy of History.
6 According to LÊ TRUNG VŨ – The traditional Tết of the Vietnamese – Culture and Information Publishing House 1996 – pp. 125 to 127.
11 According to H.GIANG – Ceremony to ask for a good catch of fish – Spring issue of Cultural magazine – Đinh Sửu Tết, 1997 – P.10.
BAN TU THU
◊ Source: Vietnamese Lunar New Year – Major Festival – Asso. Prof. HUNG NGUYEN MANH, Doctor of Phylosophy in History.
◊ Bold text and sepia images has been set by Ban Tu Thu – thanhdiavietnamhoc.com
◊ From Sketches in early 20th century to traditional rituals and festival.
◊ Signification of the term “Tết”
◊ Lunar New Year Festival
◊ Concerns of PROVIDENT PEOPLE – Concerns for KITCHEN and CAKES
◊ Concerns of PROVIDENT PEOPLE – Concerns for MARKETING – Section 1
◊ Concerns of PROVIDENT PEOPLE – Concerns for MARKETING – Section 2
◊ Concerns of PROVIDENT PEOPLE – Concerns for Dept payment
◊ In SOUTHERN PART of the COUNTRY: a HOST of PARALLEL CONCERNS
◊ The tray of Five fruits
◊ The Arrival of New Year
◊ SPRING SCROLLS – Section 1
◊ The Cult of The Deities of the Kitchen – Section 1
◊ The Cult of The Deities of the Kitchen – Section 2
◊ The Cult of The Deities of the Kitchen – Section 3
◊ Waiting for the NEW YEAR – Section 1
◊ Paying the last honours to CÔ KÍ” (The clerk’s wife) on the second Day of TẾT
◊ Before BEGINNING to WORK – Section 1
◊ Going for TẾT Ceremonies – Section 1
◊ Going for TẾT Ceremonies – Section 2
◊ Before Touching the Earth – Section 1
◊ Various Wet Rice Farmer’s Holidays and Festivals – Section 1
◊ Vietnam Lunar New Year – vi-VersiGoo