VietNamNet Bridge – Banh chung (glutinous square cake) and Tet (Lunar New Year) gifts have been delivered to houses of poor ethnic people living in the northern province of Lai Chau and the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.


Hands on: People join in to make banh chung for needy people. It’s one among activities to welcome new year at the Viet Nam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism. — VNS Photo Minh Thu

This is part of a programme organised at the Viet Nam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Son Tay Town, Hanoi yesterday.

Ethnic people and soldiers in Son Tay Town recently made 2,000 cakes and prepared gifts to help the needy, ethnic people and disaster victims.

Pham Van Quyen, the vice-director of the village’s management board, said it was a meaningful way of helping poor people and express the solidarity between ethnic groups of the nation. It was also a chance to promote the image of the village and the fine traditions of the country.

A village ceremony to erect a neu pole, a New Year tree with decorations used to ward off evil spirits, was organised, marking the start of the Year of Dog. This tradition shows respect to protective deities and prays for a peaceful, prosperous and happy new year.

The village management board has been holding traditional Tet activities every year to promote the cultural identities of Vietnamese people to domestic and foreign visitors.

“The event is also an opportunity to educate young people about preserving and developing traditional culture,” said Quyen.

Hoang Thi Tien, 41, from the northern province of Bac Kan, is one of those who made banh chung for charity.

She stays at the village in Son Tay Town to introduce the culture and crafts of her people, the Tay and returns home several days a month.  

At the traditional Tay house at the village, she performs weaving in front of tourists.

“A large number of visitors flock to the village to enjoy the spring festival," said Tien.

Tien will go home to enjoy Tet with her husband and children. All members of her family join hands to make banh chung, banh khao (sweet shortcake made of roast glutinous rice flour) and che lam (sweet glutinous rice bars) to present to the gods and ancestors.

“Like other ethnic groups, the Tay people have a tradition of snapping off a luxuriant branch from a tree near the house. This practice is known as hai loc (picking luck).”

“The branch should be picked in the darkness. We don’t use any torch because we believe that the practice should be done randomly.  If we pick up a branch with many leaves and buds, it promises that the new year will be prosperous.”

From now to the end of February, tourists to the Viet Nam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism will be able to enjoy a wide range of activities featuring traditional celebrations of different ethnic groups.

Highlights of the activities include nem con (throwing a sacred ball through a ring), a folk game of the Thai ethnic people on February 20; Gau Tao, the most important festival of the Mong, held to express gratitude to Heaven and Earth, and pray for good luck and happiness in the new year - and the traditional wedding ceremony of the Bo Y ethnic group on February 25.

Tourists can experience the food, markets, handicraft, folk games, folk dances and singing of many ethnic groups every day at the village. 

Source: VNS

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