What’s On

Saigon eats all the bad stuff away in summer cleansing festival

By Quynh Tran   May 30, 2017 | 10:49 am GMT+7

The Double Fifth Festival begins on Tuesday and locals try everything to kill all the pests in their body and soul.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest

In Vietnam, the Double Fifth Festival, or Tet Doan Ngo, is better known as the Pest Killing Fest. In the past, it's the time for farmers to get rid of all the pests attacking the summer crops. But Vietnamese also believe this is the time for physicial and spiritual cleasing. Among the bestsellers are tro cake, a mixture of sticky rice and water drained from ashes. “My family make 2,000 tro cakes this year,” said a vendor named Luu in Tan Phu District.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest-1

This pyramid-shaped cake is wrapped in banana leaves. Nhi told VnExpress that the cake is indispensable in her family’s Tet Doan Ngo feast when buying some in Hoang Hoa Tham Market in Tan Binh District.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest-2

The cake has a sweet filling made of mung bean paste.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest-3

Com ruou, a wine rice dessert, is another staple of the fest. “I made it five days before the festival so that it's ready today,” said a vendor named Ngo Thi Minh in Ba Queo Market in Tan Binh District.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest-4

The acoholic dessert is believed to be strong enough to kill all the inner insects.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest-5

Many people also buy leaves and herbs to smoke away all the pests in their family.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest-6

Sour fruits can also do the trick. In China, the Double Fifth Festival is often tied to the famous Chinese poet Qu Yuan. The Vietnamese have their own customs.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest-7

Locals buy flowers for the altars.

saigon-cleanses-body-and-soul-in-pest-killing-fest-8

Hoang Thi Vinh, 88, buys votive paper offerings. “I celebrate the fest every year, like a family tradition,” she said.