Tet tradition honors Kitchen Gods
For most Vietnamese, Tet (Lunar New Year) festival has actually begun with the Ong Cong - Ong Tao (Land Genie and Kitchen Gods) ceremony on the 23rd day of the last lunar month, which, this year, fell on Monday.
On this day, every family is busy staging a farewell ceremony for the Land Genie and the Kitchen Gods on their yearly visit to Heaven, wishing for forgiveness of their bad deeds during the year and for luck and happiness for the following year.
As the legend goes, the Land Genie and the Kitchen Gods will ride carps to Heaven on the day to deliver an annual report on the household's activities to God in Heaven, so live or paper carp have become indispensable ritual offerings for the occasion.
Lakes and rivers were packed with locals on Monday morning who release live carp back to nature as the gods make their journey on the back of the fish. This traditional act is considered a kindhearted deed and a prayer for good luck.
Offerings usually include boiled chicken, bamboo shoots soup, green sticky rice cakes, fruit, carp, and three sets of clothes for the gods.
It is believed that the ceremony to send-off the Land Genie and the Kitchen Gods should be completed by 12:00 noon so the Gods can reach Heaven in time.