Vietnam is a pretty loony place all throughout the year ( a big reason why I love it here), but is most so around Tet, their massive lunar holiday.

Before I spotted this lady I spent an hour or two watching people try to win the favor of Tao Quan, the Kitchen God. This particular god comes down from heaven once a year and checks to see who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Those with good marks are rewarded with food, spices, clothes and money. Being Vietnam, it is very natural to think that you can make up for any annual vices through a modest bribe. The best way to buy off this god is to provide him with a ride back to heaven, and it just so happens that this god prefers to travel by fish. So the thought is, if you hurl enough fish into the river, he just might choose yours for the journey.

It gets real loony when people take this a bit too far and start “offering” just about anything you could imagine. I saw several tables, some pots, food, flowers, money, and dirt dumped off of Long Bien Bridge.  But predominately it was gold-fish or red carp who took the big plunge, usually still in a plastic bag. If they were dumped from the bag first, then the bag would be just a second behind. Some would opt for a drive by tossing, and often missed the water completely. So after a few thousand  repentant Hanoians have made their offerings the river is absolutely trashed, and that is why this lady appears to be in a dump. But I’m sure the Kitchen God is extremely proud.

Remember to check out Chasing Shadows interpretation of lunacy.


4 thoughts on “Lunacy

  1. very interesting story indeed – I bet most modern Hanoian’s probably do not even believe in the Kitchen God, but hedging their bet (on staying within the good graces of the gods) they do the minimal ‘offering’ and go on about there way — I would prefer that one believes in one’s ‘belief’s’ but I imagine many people have the same attitudes towards their own religion’s ‘rules’. I like the photo but maybe it needs to pull back so that we can see more of the ‘place’ in which these ‘drive-by’ fish offerings was happening, maybe including a slight edge of the bridge, or at least the river flowing near-by. Love the story… did that woman make eye contact?

  2. Pingback: Photo Duel III: Lunacy | CHASING SHADOWS

  3. You Guys, this is getting better and better! What about “versus” for next week topic? I was thinking, the year of the cat and now the year of the dragon, and it’s almost like a fight between both, no? anyway, that’s what happens when I eat too much curry, I think in those lines….. hehehehe

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