Vietnamese free carps to bid farewell to Kitchen Gods

Thursday, 2018-02-08 16:56:56
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By freeing carp into public waters, families across Vietnam bid farewell to the Kitchen Gods on the 23rd day of the last month of the Lunar New Year.
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NDO – Vietnamese families are busy preparing to bid farewell to the Tao Quan (Kitchen Gods) on the 23rd day of the last month of the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 8 this year. This is one of the most sacred and meaningful annual events that signals the start of the Lunar New Year.

According to folk beliefs in Vietnam, Tao Quan consists of three kitchen gods who are considered as the guardians of Vietnamese homes. They record all of the good and bad deeds over the past year in each family.

On the 23rd day of the last lunar month of the year, the Kitchen Gods ride carps to Heaven in order to report on the family’s activities to the Jade Emperor and they will return on the Lunar New Year’s Eve.

On this day, Vietnamese people buy ritual offerings and hold rituals to see off the Kitchen Gods and thank them for watching over their house for another year.

The most popular ritual offerings are a set of three miniature paper hats and boots for the three gods. The offerings will be burned after the rituals.

People busy purchasing flowers, fruits, ritual offerings and carp to prepare for the Kitchen Gods ritual. They also tidy up their homes and decorate their altars.

Boiled chicken, baby jackfruit flavoured sticky rice and chung (square glutinous rice) cake are also indispensible traditional offerings to the Kitchen Gods on this day.

Special dishes offered to the Kitchen God.

The most important object in the ceremony is the carp. Legend has it that the Kitchen Gods will ride carps to Heaven on the 23rd in order to deliver an annual report on the household’s activities to the Jade Emperor.

Carp are usually sold in a pair, costing from VND20,000-50,000 each depending on their size.

Along with other ritual objects, a large bowl of water with one large live carp or three small ones will be placed on the altar.

After the worshipping ceremonies, the living carp will be freed into the water as a “means of transport” for the Kitchen Gods to go to Heaven and back. The carp are said to transform into dragons after their sacred mission.

“Carp turning into dragons” in traditional culture also expresses the efforts to overcome difficulties to achieve the best results. The Vietnamese believe that releasing carp is a kind-hearted deed and also a way to pray for good luck.

This is a unique cultural beauty of the Vietnamese people and creates a joyful festive atmosphere as the traditional Lunar New Year arrives a week later.

TRUNG HUNG