Celebrating New Year with Lowering of Neu Pole and Opening of Seals

In the past, the Neu pole (a tall bamboo pole with red garment strips used to ward off evil spirits during the lunar New Year) lowering ceremony at the royal palace of the Nguyen Dynasty was performed to mark the end of the New Year holiday and prepare to enter a new working year.

0
245


On the morning of the 7th day of the Lunar New Year (January 28th), the Hue Monuments Conservation Center organized a ceremony to lower the Neu pole and open the seal in order to welcome the new year at The Mieu Temple and Trieu Mieu Temple in the Imperial City.

Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
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. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
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. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
During 143 years of its reign (1802 – 1945), the Nguyen Dynasty held an annual ceremony to plant the Neu at the Imperial Citadel. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
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. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
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. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
It was taken down on the seventh day of the first lunar month to mark the end of the Tet celebration. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
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. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
Kim an (the restored golden seal) was taken down from the top of the Neu pole with four words “Phu – Tho – Khang – Ninh”, which symbolized Prosperity, Longevity, Good health, and Peace. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
Ancient people perceived that these words were wishes for the peace, auspicious start and longevity for the country, and luck and prosperity for the people. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
At the seal opening ceremony, Hoang Viet Trung, director of Hue Monuments Conservation Center, used the seal to stamp on the sheets on which the calligraphic words were carved, such as Phuc (Happiness), Loc (Prosperity), Tho (Longevity), Cat tuong (Good fortune), Binh an (Peace). Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
These calligraphic letters were given to visitors as wishes for good things and luck in the new year. Photo courtesy of the centre
Lowering Neu Pole, Opening Seal to Celebrates New Year
The traditional rituals of the Nguyen Dynasty have been revived for many years at the Hue imperial relic site. Photo courtesy of the centre. Photo courtesy of the centre

During the seven-day Tet holiday from January 20-26, the Hue imperial relic site received a total of over 66,000 visitors, which included 12,848 foreigners. The site’s earnings during this period amounted to nearly VND 5 billion (USD 23,060).

Hannah Nguyen