HCM CITY — A traditional spring fair featuring the sounds, tastes and smells of the ancient capital of Hue has attracted thousands of visitors in HCM City.
|Delicious: Gia Lac Spring Fair, which features unique values from Hue's culture, is held every Tet. Many traditional specialities of Hue, the ancient capital, are being introduced at the fair. — File Photos
The market's atmosphere awakens the five senses. Traditional dishes eaten during Tet (Lunar New Year), including fried chicken with lemon leaves, millet rice pancakes, orange jam and banh beo (thin cakes with salted shredded shrimp) smell good and taste wonderful. Colourful decorative objects are pleasure to the eyes and touching hand-made toys provides a tactile experience. Local folk songs round out the festive atmosphere.
The Gia Lac Spring Fair Festival was originally established by Prince Nguyen Phuoc Binh (1797-1863) under the reign of King Minh Mang on the occasion of Tet.
It was first confined to the royal family but later developed into a spring fair for everyone. It always opened on the first morning of the Lunar New Year in Gia Lac Town, the prince's land, 3km from the centre of Hue City.
Goods were abundant and changed every year, from household utensils to toys for children, cakes, fruits and food, especially barbecued beef (or veal) – an indispensable dish for the Tet holiday.
Many games took place during the festival and people took the opportunity to pray for good luck and entertainment.
The market was organised yearly until it began to decline in 1945.
Ho Hoang Anh, an artisan of Hue cuisine, worked with researchers of Hue culture to restore the traditional market.
She first introduced the market at Vietnamese Culture Week in Munich, Germany, and in Nantes, France, 10 years ago. This is the third time she has re-enacted the market, but the first time in Viet Nam.
As the offspring of a head chef of King Khai Dinh (1885-1925) and King Bao Dai (1913-97), of the Nguyen dynasty, she inherited her cooking ability and is willing to actively preserve the traditional culture of the old capital city.
"This interesting activity started by our ancestors is regretfully ignored," she said.
"It's a good opportunity for people to experience the culture which was previously popular in Hue. We're trying to protect the national spiritual heritage."
Gia Lac Spring Fair will be held until February 6 at Sailing Tower, 111A Pasteur Street, Distric 1 in HCM City to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. — VNS