Viet Nam News
THỪA THIÊN- HUẾ — Huế yesterday marked the commencement of the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday in suitably imperial fashion, with the re-enactment of ceremony once held by the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945) in the former imperial capital city.
According to Phan Thanh Hải, director of the local government’s body managing the dynasty’s relic system, the Huế Monuments Conservation Centre, dynastic kings allowed the erecting of nêu poles in several places in the former citadel to mark Tết on the 23rd of the 12th month of the lunar calendar.
The day fell on February 8 this year. Hải said the centre held the re-enactment ceremony to keep the tradition alive as well as to create more entertainment for visitors to the citadel around the end of the lunar year.
A group of the centre’s staff dressed in dynasty-styled soldier costumes carried a 20m tall bamboo tree into the former imperial palace through the eastern Hiển Nhơn Gate, one of the four entrances to the palace.
The soldiers were led by people dressed up in mandarin costumes and accompanied by a band of musicians playing real royal music. The musicians wore re-created royal musician costumes as well.
The parade of soldiers, mandarins, and musicians attracted visitors before they arrived in Thế Miếu, a dynastyic ancestral temple inside the palace, where the ceremony of pole erecting was conducted.
During the ceremony, the mandarins lit incense for praying and the musicians played court music while the soldiers erected the pole in muscular efforts.
The successful erection of the pole ended the ceremony.
Traditionally, Vietnamese people erect a pole, which is commonly called nêu and made by a tall bamboo tree with a red garment stretch hanging on top, during Tết. Researchers said ancient Vietnamese believed that the pole would drive monsters away from the communities during Tết.
They also said the red garment worked as a signal for passed ancestors to find their way home for Tết.
The poles were often erected in front of the communal houses or even in the front yard of private home. Today the tradition remains as a part of Tết tradition. — VNS