HA NOI (VNS)— As part of the ongoing flower festival at the Viet Nam Centre for Art and Cultural Exhibitions at 2 Hoa Lu Street, the first ever festival honouring Ong Cong (the Land Genie) and Ong Tao (the Kitchen God) will be held on Sunday.
Early in the morning, from the famous pottery village of Bat Trang, a procession with a 1.2m tall ceramic idol of the Land Genie, a 3.5m-long carp and 12 trays of fruits and traditional cakes will wind its way with 9 palanquins to Ha Noi and stop at the exhibition centre.
At the end of the procession, the 12 trays will be offered at the statue of King Ly Thai To by the Sword Lake, the Ngoc Son Temple and Thang Long Imperial Citadel.
In Vietnamese tradition, Ong Cong and Ong Tao are the most familiar and popular genies. On the 23rd day of Lunar December (this Sunday), offerings are made to the two genies. The belief is that both genies go to Heaven and brief Ngoc Hoang (the Jade Emperor) on the life of the owner of the house where they stay, and pray for luck, prosperity and happiness for all members of the household. On New Year's Eve, both genies will return to earth and resume their caretaking duties in the kitchen of the house.
On this day, subsequently called Ong Cong and Ong Tao festival day, Vietnamese people usually prepare a basin of water in which they put one big live carp or three small ones. After the ceremony, the carp are released into a pond or a river.
This custom has two meanings. First, the carp can swim well and it will pass the Heaven's gate to become a dragon. Thus, Ong Cong and Ong Tao can ride a carp (a dragon) to heaven. Second, the custom relates to the release of animals including birds into the air, fish into the water and other creatures into the forest as a merit-acquiring deed as well as one that brings good luck. — VNS