So what do the names mean? Translated literally, “Tet” refers to “festival”, “Doan” means “the start”, and “Ngo” is the seventh animal of the Chinese zodiac – the horse. Also known as Tết sâu bọ (sâu bọ = worms, pests), the festival is celebrated on the 5th day of lunar month. This festival is usually celebrated midway through the year, the time when the weather conditions are shifting from spring to summer. Tet Doan Ngo is actually a worship event, meant to ward away illness and evil spirits.
The name ?Tet sau bo? is derived from the fact that, on this day, farmers get rid of all pests and start growing their crops for the new season. Therefore, creatures and people must become stronger in both their health and their souls in order to overcome this. On the day of Tet Doan Ngo festival, everyone in the family, be it young or old, has to get up early in the morning and eat fermented sticky rice and fruits. The worshipping is held at noon, hour of Ngo. The tradition of eating dumplings, especially lye water dumplings, extends from the belief that the dumplings will cleanse one?s body of any unwanted ?parasites?.
Two irreplaceable dishes
The two traditional types of food to be eaten on this holiday are ?”banh u tro” and “com ruou”. “Banh u tro” is pyramidal sticky rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves. They are often stuffed with beans and banana leaves? essence, creating their dominant flavor. “Com ruou”, which literally translates as “rice wine”, are little balls of fermented rice bathed in rice wine. To make the wine, the sticky rice is boiled and, after it cools, it is mixed with brewer?s yeast. Fermented for two or three days, it becomes a sweet, thick liquid. “Com ruou” is eaten early on this day to fight the “worms” in one’s stomach.
If you try it, you will see that “Com ruou” has a strong and quite delicious taste. In the Vietnamese traditional beliefs, wine kills all off any parasites in the body. Vietnamese people, from adults to kids, love to eat “com ruou”, and adults are more likely to gain its curing effects if they add a grain of salt.
During the festival, on top of the worshiping ceremonies in every local person?s house and at religious common places, entertainment is also provided in public areas. The festival invites everyone to leave his or her home for pagodas, beaches or other beautiful landscapes, in order to benefit from the fresh air for better spiritual and physical life.
Up to now, besides the Lunar New Year Holiday, Doan Ngo Festival plays a significant role in every Vietnamese’s life, carrying with it practical and holy meanings. If you come to enjoy the atmosphere of Doan Ngo Festival, you will get to know more about its value and spirits.