Saigon puts up Chinese lanterns to welcome first full moon of the year

By Thanh Nguyen, Cong Khang, Khanh Hoang   March 3, 2018 | 05:41 pm GMT+7

It usually takes the Chinese-Vietnamese community in Ho Chi Minh City more than a month to prepare for Tet Nguyen Tieu, or the Lantern Festival.

And as in any other year, the Hoa ethnic Chinese people never mean to celebrate it small.

The festival on Friday, which marks the final day of the traditional Lunar New Year celebration, is observed on the 15th day of the first lunar month when the moon is full.

“This Tet to us is even more important than the Lunar New Year’s Eve,” Sang, a member of the Chinese community in District 6 explained the significance of the Lantern Festival. This is the time for all of their wishes and prayers to be heard by the Gods. “Every year my whole family prepare offerings and go to the pagoda early in the morning to pray for peace, luck and happiness in the new year.”

People burnt incense in On Lang Pagoda (District 5).

People burn incense in On Lang Pagoda (District 5).

Tet Nguyen Tieu is also the chance for those who had a rough past year to pray to be relieved of the bad luck, Sang added, before dispersing into the crowd in On Lang Pagoda with his five-member family.

A man got rubbed

Bad luck relief ritual: A man (R) gets wiped off bad luck with a charm paper while the other murmurs a spell chant in On Lang Pagoda.

During the festival, Hoa people traditionally lighten up lanterns, eat dumplings at home and flock to pagodas with offerings and send their prayers to the Gods by burning incense.

Because there were so many incense sticks burnt, a caretaker of On Lang had to remove the sticks a few times during the festival.

A caretaker at On Lang removes incense sticks from the altar to make way for new ones as more people come in to the pagoda to send their prayers to the Gods..

Paper offering were burnt in On Lang Pagoda.

Votive paper offerings burn in On Lang Pagoda.

One of the most awaited parts of the festival is hat tuong, or Vietnamese-Chinese opera. The shows go on from three to five days on stages of major Hoa pagodas in town.

A man recorded a tuong act in Nghia An Pagoda (District 5)

A man records a tuong act in Nghia An Pagoda (District 5)

Audiences, ranging from young to old ages, watched a tuong act in Nghia An. 

Audiences, ranging from youngsters to seniors, watch a tuong act in Nghia An. 

Theater actors from Thong Nhat troupe performed an ancient Teochew tuong act in Nghia An Pagoda (District 5)

Theater actors from Thong Nhat troupe perform an ancient Teochew tuong act in Nghia An Pagoda (District 5)

Tet Nguyen Tieu is also the time for the Hoa to come in full force to celebrate their cultural identity by throwing the largest street parade, featuring lion dances and performers in costumes accompanied by marching bands going through main streets in Cholon, the China town.

Dragon dance was performed by famous troupes in the Chinatown.

Dragon dance is being performed by famous troupes in the Chinatown.

The parade stretched for kilomet long in Cholon area.

The parade stretches over a kilometer (0.62 miles) in Cholon area.

performers in costumes...

Performers in costumes...

... accompanied with marching bands

... accompanied by marching bands

...walked through the town...

...walk through the town...

...walked through the town...

... to bring good luck and happiness to everyone.

A showcase of red lanterns is a must in the festival.

A showcase of red lanterns is a must in the festival.

Anticipants of the parade tried to take a glimpse from afar.

Onlookers try to take a glimpse of the parade from afar.

Watch the celebration of Tet Nguyen Tieu, or the Lantern Festival in Ho Chi Minh City in motion.

 
 
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