A ceremony was held at the Hue Imperial Relic Site in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue’s Hue City on January 28 (the seventh day of the first lunar month) to take down the Neu pole (a tall bamboo pole with red garment strips used to ward off evil spirits during the lunar New Year) and open the New Year seal.
According to Director of the Hue Relics Preservation Centre Hoang Viet Trung, under the Nguyen Dynasty, the rituals marked the end of the Lunar New Year holiday and the start of work and normal activities.
Neu pole lowering ceremony.
The Neu pole was erected on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, marking the beginning of Tet. It coincides with the day when the Kitchen Gods are believed to ride a carp to Heaven to report on events from the past year.
During 143 years of its reign (1802 – 1945), the Nguyen Dynasty held an annual ceremony to plant the Neu at the Imperial Citadel. The pole carried ritual items on its top, like a royal seal, a paper scroll and pen, which implied that the royal court stopped working during Tet. After the royal ceremony, ordinary people would erect their own Neu and start celebrating Tet.
The Neu was intended to ward off ghosts and demons from entering the community during Tet, and guide the spirits of ancestors on the way home for the Lunar New Year festival. The custom is also practiced in some Asian countries besides Vietnam.
It was taken down on the seventh day of the first lunar month to mark the end of the Tet celebration.
Meanwhile, the seal opening marked the start of a new working year of the ancient central administrative system with the hope that the whole year will be smooth and successful and the country will be peaceful and prosperous.
The traditional rituals of the Nguyen Dynasty have been revived for many years at the Hue imperial relic site.
During the seven-day Tet holiday from January 20-26, the Hue imperial relic site welcomed over 66,000 visitors, including 12,848 foreigners, earning nearly 5 billion VND (23,060 USD).