Battle for blessings in southern Vietnam

By Quynh Tran   February 12, 2017 | 08:30 pm PT
The Lam Chay Festival turned into a mad scramble for sacred objects, including instant noodles.

The festival originates from the 19th century when French colonialists killed two Vietnamese patriots at Tam Vu Market in Long An Province but didn’t allow them a proper funeral. Local residents tricked the French by claiming an epidemic had destroyed the harvest in order to hold a ceremony to worship the patriots.


Nowadays, the Lam Chay Ceremony is a festival for people to worship the souls of the dead and to take some time off at the beginning of the year. At 10 p.m. on February 12, people gathered for the ceremony, waiting until midnight to collect their blessings.


Many even sat on the roof to watch the rituals.


The crow repeatedly chanted and found a way to jump over the fence. Security forces had to use sticks and stun batons to deter excited revelers.


At midnight, a statue representing the dead was burnt after the monks prayed for the salvation of their souls, and then the fight kicked off.


Thousands of people pushed against  the fence to get to the ceremony in search of sacred objects.


 Committee members started throwing offerings like fruits, flowers and candy for people on the outside.


People reached out in the hope of catching offerings, which are believed to bringing good luck and fortune throughout the year.


A young man overturned the stage so that offerings fell onto the ground.


People scrambled to get candy bars or packs of instant noodles.


A man named Minh said that he was happy after grabbing a watermelon. “The fruit is fresh and beautiful so I will keep it on display in my house. Just a watermelon can bring me good luck,” he said.


A 20-year-old young man also managed to pick up a paper gold ingot. "The ingot has been torn but I still believe in its meaning. Many people were after it but I said no.”


People pulling a damaged chicken mascot home. The fight went on for 20 minutes.

Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

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