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Spring ritual of “Tien Xuan Nguu” is re-enacted
Thuy Duong - Ngoc Tu 13:05, 2021/02/01
The Tet rituals of Le Trung Hung dynasty (1533 - 1789) was re-enacted at King Thien Palace, Thang Long Imperial Citadel on the morning of January 30.

The program helps visitors experience the festive atmosphere of Tet in ancient times, while fulfilling Vietnam's commitment to UNESCO to preserve and promote the heritage at Thang Long Citadel - Hanoi.

According to the Hanoi Heritage Conservation Center, this is the first time the ritual of “Tien Xuan Nguu” of Le Trung Hung dynasty (16th to 18th centuries) is re-enacted at the Kinh Thien Palace. 

During the Le Trung Hung period, the “Tien Xuan Nguu” ritual was a great ceremony that was meticulously prepared and celebrated by the court.

This is an ancient ritual that people offered a clay buffalo to the God Heaven asking for ‘expelling the cold winter and welcoming the warm spring’ to the nation. 

In the afternoon one day prior to “Lap Xuan” day (the day as the Spring started, usually falls around February 4 or 5), the “Than Cau Mang” or clay Buffalo God and 1215 “Xuan nguu” or 1215 calves were set up in front of the worshiping altar, in preparation for the main ritual in the early next day. (In the photo: a “Buffalo God” is re-enacted).

According to Oriental Zodiac, Buffalo represents the month of December, so it is associated with the last month of winter of the old year. The act of using a strawberry whip hitting the buffalo's butt conveys the meaning of "expelling the old and cold of winter, welcoming the New Year and warm spring," according to historian Le Van Lan.

Thang Long citadel residents were eager to see the procession. This was a great festival of Thang Long Imperial Citadel during the Le Trung Hung dynasty. The “Tien Xuan Nguu” ritual was re-enacted at the Kinh Thien Palace on the morning of January 30. The shrine and surrounding spaces were beautifully decorated.
During the ceremony, the mandarins, according to the ranks, were assigned to stand on the east and west sides of the Dragon Court, meanwhile the King sat on the throne that was placed in the center of the Kinh Thien Palace.
Arriving at the Dong Hoa gate of the Imperial City, the process stopped, only the “Phu Doan” mandarin and his  soldiers were allowed to enter the Forbidden palace to offer the Buffalo God to the king.

The 1215 calves that were placed on the red painted wooden trays and covered with yellow silk clothes. 

Phu Doan mandarin performed his work to offer the Buffalo God to the King. 
The Buffalo God was placed in front of Kinh Thien Palace.
The mandarins performed the ritual of "whipping the buffalo in the Spring" 
The "Tien Xuan Nguu" ceremony ended, the mandarin of Treasury received the Buffalo God and the 1215 calves.   

The "Tien Xuan Nguu" ceremony ended, the mandarin of Treasury received the Buffalo God and the 1215 calves.  These buffaloes were gifted by the king to the high-ranking dignitaries first then the rest was distributed to the ministries and his wives in Thang Long Imperial Citadel as usual. 

The mandarins performed the ritual of "whipping the buffalo in the Spring" 
The "Tien Xuan Nguu" ritual was the only worshiping rite which was held during the Le Trung Hung dynasty with the meaning of "expelling winter cold" and “wishing for a year of good weather and good harvest.” According to cultural experts, "Tien Xuan Nguu" has great cultural values and ussualy were performed in front of the Kinh Thien Palace.
After this pilot program, Hanoi Heritage Conservation Center will perform the official ceremony of “Tien Xuan Nguu” on the 23rd day of the last month of the Lunar New Year of the Buffalo (on February 4, 2021) and the ritual is expected to be re-enacted yearly from now on. 



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