For Vietnamese people, festivals are originally a unique culture, expressing desire for a happy life and longevity. However, whenever Spring comes,though immersed in Tet’s atmosphere, many people still do not forget to go to pagodas and temples to incense, pray for peace, luck and happiness. Hence,the ritual of going to pagodas and temples at the beginning of a year has become a cultural beauty in every class of society.
The Vietnamese believe that, going to pagodas and temples at the beginning of a year is not only to pray and wish, but it is also a moment to enjoy in the place of human spirituality, leaving behind hardship of the living struggle. Joining the crowd of people going to pagodas and temples, each of us will feel the harmony of heaven – earth. The smell of incense, vibrant colors of lights, and flowers with the pure space of sacred place will make people become more gentle and serene.
The manner and ritual of going to pagodas and temples at the beginning of a year are different between the North and South. For the North, people often have offerings, or fragrance when going to church. Traditionally, the ceremony tray is always sufficient with incense, flowers, gold paper and a petition to the God written in Han script including the wish of the owner for a year with everything to their liking. In particular, the wording of Northern people’s vows often has rhymes with melody, now high now low. As shown, vows sound like poetry, like music humming in the dim space of temples and churches, making up the sacredness and illusiveness. After the ceremony, people usually ask the pagoda or temple keeper something as a good luck for a new year. And for the South, the ceremony is simpler, they usually do not carry offerings, if yes, there is only fruit, with sticky rice and meat as Northerners. The prayer is also simple. People pray for what they wish and do not necessarily carry petition to the God. They simply ask for what they wish, and this is called “khấn Nôm” (oral prayer).
No matter how different they are in the two area, the noble tradition of visiting pagodas and temples still remains its real meaning, in which any barrier of age, status or sex are eliminated, everyone unite there, in a mutual spiritual world.