My experience of Tet Eve was a mixture of pain and excitement. Victor, Dau and I walked to the river to see the Tet Eve fireworks. Unfortunately I was not prepared for a four mile walk and the arthritis in my hip kept me in pain. I took a taxi back to the house and watched the fireworks from the roof after taking ibuprofen for pain. When Dau and Victor returned we toasted the new year and we all stayed up till about 2:30 AM. The only thing I would do different is wear shoes and take my pain medicine before the walk.
The first three days of the new year was an interesting mixture of visiting, eating, drinking, and napping and visiting, eating, drinking and napping and visiting, eating , drinking and napping. Now that is a celebration! We also went to pagoda on the first day of Tet.
Arriving at pagoda was a carnival atmosphere and a tangle of traffic I was very thankful to not have to be a driver in. The ritual at pagoda began with incense and prayers. My prayers were for the health and safety of all of us and that all the people around me have a happy Tet. After our prayers we used the “shaky thing.” The highly technical name for this divinatory tool was a great source of private amusement for me. I am familiar with divinatory tools such as tarot cards, astrology, and numerology. This was my first experience with the “shaky thing” whose name defines the operation. The tool is a tube about eight inches long and three inches in diameter, open at one end. Inside is a loose bundle of numbered sticks about ten inches long, ¾ of an inch wide and ¼ inch thick. To use it, it is held at about a 45 degree angle and shaken (hence the name) until one of the sticks falls out. The user remembers the number, passes the tool to the next user and looks up the number (mine was 3) in another location. For me the reading indicated that it would be a good year for relationship. Considering the last six months my wife, Bernie and I are ready for a good year. The reading also said that I would have good health and that if there was sickness I would have a quick recovery. Again this was very good news in light of the last six months. There was something about if I choose to start a business I will have success. All in all it was a very positive reading. Next we picked a small envelope from a tree for a prize. Mine was a laughing Buddha statue. Each of these activities had a fee associated with it. At first glance it seemed commercial to me until I was given to understand that this is how the people support the pagoda.
I am writing this paper with two audiences. My instructors and those of you reading this here. You are getting the unpolished, unedited version. The assignment is to record my experience and understanding so it seems perfect to be shared here. Enjoy the read and remember......next vacation visit beautiful Viet Nam!!
Chuc Mung Nam Mou!!