The “Ong Cong – Ong Tao” (Land Genie and Kitchen God) or the “Kitchen God” farewell ritual which falls on 4 February this year. Since the early morning of the day, a group of youth volunteers from Hanoi gathered in Long Bien bridge, helping people to do the ritual of fish releasing in an environmentally friendly way.  

The volunteer group called itself as “Ca Chep” or the carp, features 50 young volunteers who are responsible for helping people releasing fish into the Red River and collecting plastic bags. 

They stand along the bridge, holding signs conveying the message of environmental protection: “Release fish- Not plastic bags”. This is the group’s annual activity. The project is called “Kitchen God’s Journey”.

Traditionally, the kitchen god farewell ritual is usually observed on the 23rd day of the last month of the lunar year. And alive carps or goldfishes are considered as the means for Land Genie and the Kitchen God to ride to Heaven to deliver an annual report on the household’s activities to the Jade Emperor. 

In addition, for Vietnamese, the image of carp also conveyed the aspiration of “Carp transforms to Dragon”, which implies sublimation, persistent spirit to conquer knowledge and success. Live fish releasing ritual is also considered a kind act which people think would be redeemed with good luck. 

According to Nguyen Duc Toan- the head of the Ca Chep group, this annual activity not only aims at lending people a hand to release  fish on a special and busy day of the year, but also delivering the message of environment protection among Hanoians. 

Many people gave fish to the volunteers, asking them to release the fish into the water. 

Volunteers used pulleys to transfer fish bags from the Long Bien bridge to the Red River beach, preparing for the fish release.

Measures to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic are strictly followed by these young people. They all wear face masks and keep the safe distance.
A volunteer waits on the Red River’s mudflats, receiving the fish and release into the water; at the same time, collect the plastic bag.