Tomb of Vietnamese marshal draws crowds during Tet

On the Lunar New Year's Eve morning, local people gathered at HCM City's Tomb of Marshal Le Van Duyet for a bamboo pole-erecting ceremony and a unicorn dance performance.

Traditionally, people erect a bamboo pole to ward off ghosts and evil spirits during the festive days, which are expected to attract several thousands of pilgrims to HCM City and elsewhere in Viet Nam's southern region.

The annual ceremony was followed by prostration and flag-hoisting ceremonies in front of the marshal's and his wife's tombs. The ceremonies are conducted twice a year before a seven-day festival begins at the site, situated at the corner of the busy Dinh Tien Hoang- Phan Dang Luu intersection in the city's Binh Thanh district.

Besides this, local people also organise similar event to mark the death anniversary of the marshal on the first day of the eighth lunar month to express their gratitude for his contribution towards stabilising the southern region, and for ushering in an era of prosperity and wealth a few centuries ago.

The festivals have become a tradition of the HCM City residents, who have worshipped the marshal as a hero since his death. The marshal enjoys a god-like status and residents visit his tomb to pay their respects and to pray.

The festival attracts visitors with unicorn dance performances organised on the first, second and third days of the Lunar New Year.

Displays of fruits and Vietnamese traditional art and exhibitions are organised on the fourth, fifth and sixth days of the New Year.

The largest crowd comes on the last day of the festival, the seventh day of the Lunar New Year. Most of the pilgrims will gather at the temple for a Hat Boi (Vietnamese classical opera) performance, the favourite art form of Marshal Le Van Duyet when he was alive.

According to organisers, in previous years, artists performed classical dramas depicting stories related to the marshal's life. This year, local artists will perform Than Nu Dang Ngu Linh Ky (goddess to offer magical flag) and Tu Tu Do Tan Khoa (four brothers become mandarins).

Than Nu Dang Ngu Linh Ky is the love story of a goddess and Tiet An Luong, a talented military leader, who are kept apart by An Luong's mother Phan Le Hue, a famous general.

Tu Tu Do Tan Khoa tells the story of a woman who supported her husband and three brothers-in-law to become mandarins.

Tran Van Sung, head of the ceremony board of the temple, told Viet Nam News that the festival was meaningful to people in the city. Visiting the temple on the occasion of the marshal's death anniversary and the New Year has long become a tradition of the Saigonese people. 

The temple, the first national historical site in HCM City, attracts pilgrims of various ethnic groups in the country. It is among the rare places that still organise worship ceremonies followed during the Nguyen Dynasty, Sung added.

During the marshal's time, he laid the foundation for the expansion of southern Viet Nam and the establishment and development of Gia Dinh City in the early 1800s, now HCM City.

When the Nguyen Dynasty came to power in 1802, Duyet became a high-ranking mandarin, serving under the first two Nguyen emperors Gia Long and Minh Mang. His governance greatly stabilised and helped develop southern Viet Nam, turning it into a wealthy and peaceful region.

Viet Nam News reporter Van Dat captured images featuring the Tomb of Marshal Le Van Duyet and the activities of the local people on the morning of the Lunar New Year's Eve, the first day of the festival:

The temple is very quiet on normal days, though people come to light incense and pray sometimes.
Before erecting a flag, the local people and descendants of the marshal perform a worship ceremony in front of his tomb.
Before the seven-day festival begins, people hoist the flag near his tomb and keep it flying during the festive days.
People prepare the bamboo pole before erecting it. To avoid bad luck during the New Year, people are asked not to step over the bamboo pole
People worship together before erecting the bamboo pole.
People erect the bamboo pole after offering incense and worship. The pole will be maintained during the festive days.
A unicorn dance is performed.
A unicorn dance is performed.

by Van Dat

Nguồn tin: VNN