by Nguyen Khanh Van
HA NOI — Despite cold weather and rain, more than 1,000 overseas Vietnamese gathered at a special event at Ba Dinh Square in Ha Noi yesterday evening to celebrate the coming Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival.
|President Truong Tan Sang watches fish being released at a ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex in Ha Noi yesterday as part of the Kitchen God Festival, which falls today (on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month). — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Giang
The annual Xuan Que Huong (Spring in the Homeland) event is held eight days before Tet to welcome Vietnamese expatriates returning home for their country's biggest festival.
Addressing the event, President Truong Tan Sang said Viet Nam has made important achievements, including economic growth, ensuring social security, keeping social and political order and improving the country's prestige in the international arena, thanks to the efforts and contributions made by the whole nation, including overseas Vietnamese communities.
"The Party and State always affirm that overseas Vietnamese communities are an inseparable part of the Vietnamese nation and always try their best to support Vietnamese expatriates to help develop the economy, stabilise their lives and keep their traditional characteristics," Sang said.
Vietnamese expatriate Nguyen Quoc Trong, a 68-year-old who has lived in France for more than 20 years, said he was really surprised and moved by the programme of performances at the event.
"This is the first time I got to see such a programme. We are really moved by the familiar images of the homeland through songs and videos shown and they make us warm despite the cold weather," he said.
His wife, Nguyen Minh Luan, said participating at the event would make this year's Tet all the more memorable and meaningful.
"I will have lots of things to tell my children and grandchildren in France about the atmosphere of a traditional Tet festival in the homeland," she said.
"It is totally different when celebrating Tet in the homeland. Visiting relatives, famous local landscapes and enjoying traditional food during the festive season is something that can only be done in Viet Nam.
"In France, we often join cultural activities held by the Vietnamese community in France on special occasions such as Independence Day (September 2) or Tet, and this draws the participation of thousands of Vietnamese expatriates and is a good way to help us feel like we are home."
For 20-year-old Nguyen Thuy Hien, an expatriate from Germany, celebrating Tet in the homeland is also a much cherished opportunity.
"Words fail me when trying to express my feelings during my first Tet in Viet Nam, my homeland. I arrived here one week ago and felt the atmosphere of Tet in every corner of the city," she said.
"You can see many quat (kumquat trees) and dao (peach blossom), the symbol of Tet as my mom often told me, being sold along the street... it's a scene you can not see in Germany."
Speaking about their new year's wishes, they all said they hoped Viet Nam would continue to develop and provide a source of pride for all Vietnamese expatriates.
"Particularly, we wish Viet Nam, with contributions from overseas Vietnamese, would quickly overcome the difficulties and challenges of the world economic crisis," Trong said.
The Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee yesterday also hosted a get-together for overseas Vietnamese returning home to celebrate Tet.
President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee, Huynh Dam joined officials from the State Commission for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs in welcoming expatriates from countries around the world and wished them a healthy, successful and peaceful New Year.
Dam stressed that the overseas Vietnamese community is an inseparable part of the great national unity bloc, affirming that the Party and State always attached much importance to protecting their rights.
There are an estimated 4 million Vietnamese expatriates around the world. — VNS