Thousands of pilgrims did not mind elbowing their way through madding crowds only to receive a symbolic ‘royal seal’ of an 18th-century emperor, believed to bring in fortune throughout the Lunar New Year, at a temple in Vietnam on Wednesday.
Wednesday was the fifth day of the Lunar New Year, or Tet holiday, when people across Vietnam visited pagodas and temples to pay homage to ancestors.
In Nghe An Province, thousands of pilgrims flocked to the King Quang Trung Temple atop Dung Quyet Mountain in the capital city of Vinh to pay tribute to the emperor who ruled feudal Vietnam between 1788 and 1792.
What pilgrims anticipated was the ritual to issue the seal of King Quang Trung – in the symbolic form of yellow papers printed with the king’s insignia in red.
Every visitor to the temple wanted to go home with the seal, believing that it would bring them health, peace and good luck throughout the year.
This is the fifth year the seal-granting ritual has been held at the King Quang Trung Temple in Nghe An, according to the institution managers.
The idea of issuing the symbolic king seal to visitors at the temple was initiated by the Vinh administration and the Nghe An central library, learning from similar events at the Tran Temple in Nam Dinh Province.
“Last year we gave some 15,000 seals to pilgrims, and the number this year was around 17,000,” the temple’s deputy manager Nguyen Van Xuan told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“We put up fences and assigned staff to ensure security at the temple during the seal-granting ceremony.”
However, people were so eager to get the seal that all security measures were neutralized.
As observed by Tuoi Tre, people stood in milling crowds in front of the temple section where the seals would be distributed, with some not wanting to get in line rushing to break the fences to enter, thus causing a chaotic scene.
Speaking through a loudspeaker, Xuan repeatedly called on people to stay calm because “there [were] enough seals to give all of [them],” but the crowds did not seem to care.
One hour after the ritual began, hundreds of people still waited outside in three lines for their turn to bring home the king’s seal of fortune.
Some pilgrims, like 48-year-old Pham Thi Tam, were lucky enough to receive two seals after 30 minutes of cramming in the crowds.
“We would visit this temple every year for the seal, wishing for peace and good luck for the whole family,” she said.
This year marks the 228th anniversary of Emperor Quang Trung, also known as Nguyen Hue, defeating Chinese Qing invaders in 1789, known as the Ngoc Hoi – Dong Da Victory.