People visits Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda in HCM City during Lunar New Year festival. — Photo doisongphapluat.vn
by Thu Anh
Despite efforts of local authorities to stamp out superstitious practices as well as publications of unsavoury reading materials, sales of "mystical cultural” items and books of superstitious practices boomed after the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday in HCM City.
Traditionally, many people including Buddhists visit pagodas or temples to pray for luck in the new year. They also ask for horoscope papers and buy books or printed materials about superstitions.
Street vendors around Vĩnh Nghiêm, Phổ Quang and Xá Lợi pagodas offer metaphysical materials and horoscopes for about VNĐ5,000 (25 US cents). Horoscope books, palm reading books and books on fortune telling sell for VNĐ10,000- 30,000 ($1.5).
Materials for forecasting the best days for house construction, weddings and opening a business are also offered.
“My friends and I always buy a horoscope paper when we visit the pagoda. We’re curious about the future although we know it’s not true,” Trịnh Anh Nguyên, a third-year student at the HCM City University of Culture, said.
According to a vendor working outside Vĩnh Nghiêm Pagoda, because these items are illegally printed and distributed, prices depend on the customers’ appearance and the number of pages in a book. Sellers often manage to empty customers’ pockets by charging high prices.
For example, a horoscope copy sells for only VNĐ5,000, but a book on fortune telling sometimes sells for hundreds of thousands đồng.
In addition to street retailers near pagodas, wholesalers not only supply copies of superstitious materials but also trade in products and tapes with inappropriate content, including pornographic books, magazines and CDs.
According to Trần Hồng Hải, a market management official in District 1, although local authorities have issued warnings, people remain superstitious and are willing and eager to buy these products. Meanwhile, illegal traders take advantage of people in order to earn high profits.
To cope with the problem, Hai says stronger efforts must be made by responsible offices and officials.
“However, the most important thing is to make people, particularly students and young labourers, aware of the dangers of these products and superstitious practices, and to call for public support in the fight to eliminate these activities,” he added. — VNS