|People buy red carps at Ha Noi's Phuong Mai Market to offer to the Kitchen God. — VNS Photo Truong Vi
HA NOI (VNS)— Today, according to the lunar calendar, the Vietnamese people believe the Kitchen God (Ong Tao) will begin his journey to the Heavenly Palace.
Kitchen God Worship Day is the 23rd day of the last lunar month of the Year of the Snake, 2013. If you take a walk around the city, the chances are good that you will see people everywhere releasing carps, mostly red ones, into lakes or rivers.
The Vietnamese believe that three gods reside in each family's kitchen: two male gods and one female. According to their beliefs, the Kitchen God rides a red carp—which some say later transforms into a dragon—on his way to heaven in the 12th lunar month to deliver his annual report on the household's activities. So every year, Vietnamese families prepare a feast to say goodbye to the Kitchen God before he takes off for his journey, offering him carps to ride.
Thuy Tram Village in Tuy Loc Commune, northern Phu Tho Province, is well-known for its golden carps. Residents of the village raise their carps six months prior to the Tet holiday festival. It's a long wait, but the pay-off is well worth it.
Nguyen Van Hiep, a long-time red carp breeder, said the tradition has been followed in his village for more than 30 years.
Hiep owns five ponds filled with red carps. Every Tet holiday, he sells 2.5 to 3 tonnes of red carps to markets in northern provinces, helping him earn more than VND200 million (US$9,400).
Traders from northern areas come here to order carps two weeks prior to the start of the Kitchen God festival. This year, the wholesale price is around VND110, 000 ($5) for each kilo of carp.
Around 500 out of 564 households in the village are breeding red carps for a living.
What is new this year is that residents in Ha Noi can now have carps delivered to their doorstep. This is possible because they can now buy carps online.
Nguyen Thi Trang, who has a permanent office job in Ha Noi, is also dabbling in the red carp business this year because her hometown is near Thuy Tram Village. But since she works full time, she sells her carp online. She receives orders, and then transports the red carps from her hometown to Ha Noi.
"My husband, who has his holidays earlier, can ship them around the city," she said, adding that she receives some 200 orders per day just prior to the Kitchen God festival.
"People are busy these days, and online shopping has become very popular. Why wouldn't it be the same for selling red carps?" she stated.
The price for a pair of small red carps is VND30,000 ($1.4). Larger ones cost VND50,000 ($2.3). Customers interested in bulk purchases enjoy free shipping.—VNS