On Tuesday night, long lines of devout Buddhists filled up the area around Phuc Khanh Pagoda in Dong Da District, waiting for their chance to pray and attend a ceremony, which will last until next week, to ward off bad luck and pray for peace and luck in the New Lunar Year. Two hours before the ceremony kicked off, the pagoda was crowded with people who’d arrived early. A woman registered for the ritual at the pagoda. Many Vietnamese people believe that their fate lies in the star designated for that year. Of the nine stars, some are considered lucky, but some are not and cause troubles and affect their daily lives. They often visit pagodas in the early days of the Lunar New Year to pray that bad stars do not cause unfortunate events. People carrying plastic stools jostle to find some space amidst the big crowd. At around 6 p.m., devout Buddhists had taken up half of the space from Tay Son Street until the foot of Nga Tu So Flyover. Police officers were dispatched to the scene to … [Read more...] about Thousands flock to Hanoi pagoda to ward off bad luck
Bad luck and trouble
Chelsea will be playing for more than just simple qualification when they travel to Napoli in the Champions League second round, first leg on Tuesday. Villas-Boas, for many people's money, is living on borrowed time in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat. Rumours of dressing room dissent and some unsatisfactory results have made his position appear precarious. Chelsea face a fight to finish in the top four in the Premier League, battling alongside Arsenal and Newcastle for that crucial fourth spot, and hence qualification for next season's premier European club competition. They came close to bowing out of the FA Cup at home to Championship Birmingham City at the weekend too, before snatching a draw. Villas-Boas admits he doesn't know if he will still be in a job if they fail to beat the Italians. "It's not up to me to decide that, you have to ask that question to the right person," he said, referring to owner Roman Abramovich. But the Portuguese manager says his side is lacking in … [Read more...] about Chelsea playing for AVB and EPL futures
In the midst of our soggy rainy season, it’s good to think of cheerful activities. Fortunately, Halloween, the American autumn festival, will finally arrive on the 31st of October. I’m surprised that the festival, and its celebration of spooky, kooky, and departed souls, hasn’t been taken up more widely in Vietnam. In the midst of our soggy rainy season, it’s good to think of cheerful activities. Fortunately, Halloween, the American autumn festival, will finally arrive on the 31st of October. I’m surprised that the festival, and its celebration of spooky, kooky, and departed souls, hasn’t been taken up more widely in Vietnam. A popular activity in Western countries and among younger, well-off Vietnamese in big cities, Halloween would be a perfect addition to the Vietnamese festival calendar as a brief, spooky event between the Mid-Autumn Festival and Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year). And this year’s Halloween should be extra spooky given … [Read more...] about Halloween’s coming to Vietnam!
The seventh lunar month, which this year began on August 14, is believed to be the time when ghosts and spirits come out from the lower realm and visit the living. Through the month, which ends September 12, Vietnamese offer food, fruits and votive papers to hungry ghosts, who are supposed to wander around the streets and drop into any house they feel like. The "Hungry Ghost Month" is also usually associated with bad luck, and historically a lot of calamities and tragedies have occurred during this period. Therefore, weddings, important business transactions, groundbreaking and opening ceremonies are postponed to the next month. Business owners make lots of offerings to the hungry ghosts wandering around. Some big ones even hire lion dance troupes to perform at their offerings to lure hungry ghosts to the party. Many families offer trays with offerings to the ghosts to appease the transient ones and sate their appetite. Hungry Ghost Festival It is said that on the 15th night of Ghost … [Read more...] about How to satisfy a gaggle of hungry spirits during Hungry Ghost Month? Hungry Ghost Festival
One day in late 2010, I was treating my kids to ice cream at a shop in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District. We were new to Vietnam and, as usual, I liked the posted price: 10,000 dong per scoop, or less than 50 U.S. cents. Vietnam: such a deal! When the woman behind the counter charged us 15,000 dong per scoop, I pointed to the sign behind her – and she, in turn, pointed to the little handmade sign in front of the cash register with the new price. Her colleague spoke serviceable English: “The price of everything is going up.” That, in retrospect, proved to be an understatement. Vietnam’s inflation rate soared to higher than 20 per cent in the middle of 2011, and remained in double digits through the first few months of 2012, the highest cost-of-living increase in Asia. Since then, Vietnam’s authorities have won praise for policies that helped bring inflation back to single digits. Keeping it under control, authorities say, remains a top priority for 2013. But … [Read more...] about What kind of luck will the Snake bring?