Volunteers guard stone turtles at Hanoi’s Temple of Literature
VietNamNet Bridge – Students are flocking to Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) in Hanoi before the university entrance exams to touch the head of stone turtles to wish for good luck. But this year the turtles are being guarded by a dozen volunteers.
On the days before the university entrance exams, which begin today - July 4, hundreds of high school graduates went to Van Mieu - Quoc Tu Giam (the first university in Vietnam) to wish for good luck.
Moved by the belief that touching the stone turtle head or steles would bring them luck, annually before the university entrance exams, students visit the university, ignoring the signs telling them not to touch the monuments.
This year a dozen students from the Hanoi University of Technology are voluntarily guarding the stone turtles and steles.
"I have to explain to students and their parents that touching the heads of stone turtles and steles for good luck in exams is wrong. Most people understand and cooperate with me," said student Vu Hoang Thai.
The temple was the main Confucian school in the feudal time. Built in 1070 in the time of Emperor Ly Nhan Tong, it is now only one of many old universities that still stand in the country.
It is located to the south of Thang Long Citadel. The various pavilions, halls, statues and stelae in of old scholars are still venerated as places of respect, and modern students still want to benefit from this tradition.
571,000 students sit tertiary entrance exams
More than 571,000 high school students nationwide began the national university entrance examinations on July 4 seeking a place at one of the 141 universities and colleges.
This begins another nail-biting season that will last throughout July.
According to the Ministry of Education and Training, the number of registered applications was nearly 768,000, as one student can make several applications.
More than 22,000 university students and others have volunteered to help students and relatives find accommodation and ways of getting around the big cities.
Deputy Education Minister Bui Van Ga has called on students to avoid cheating. He said inspectors and local education officers would step up measures to deal with the problem.
Volunteers are guarding the stone steles and turtles.
A boy is trying to touch the stone turtle.
The Dai Thanh temple is the only place where students are allowed to burn incense.
The notice: Do not take incenses into the temple.
Dam Thi Lan, a volunteer from Hanoi Polytechnic University, stood before the palace to make sure that no one takes incense inside.
The altar of Confucius inside the Dai Thanh temple is always crowded these days.
A woman prays in front of the Confucius altar, with a piece of paper noting the information of his son’s exams.
The table in front of the statue of Confucius in Dai Thanh temple is full of change and offerings.
Students also ask for scripts from calligraphers. One boy, who is about to attend the entrance exams of the Hanoi University of Construction, asked for the “Dat” ideograph (“pass” exams). He said he felt more confident after visiting the temple.