Vietnamese mother day (Lễ Vu Lan)

muckienlien

French version

Like the Europeans, Vietnamese people celebrate Mothers’ Day too. It is the Vu Lan festival on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar.

Once upon a time there was a naughty lady of the name Thanh Ðề. She was without pity toward the poor and above all the beggars. She never gave alms and chased any beggars who showed up at the gate of her house. She did not hesitate to trample on the rice grains picked up by the poor peasants toiling all year long on their land. She made fun at buddhist priests and nuns by trying to disturb their quietness. She blasphemed Buddha, was in contempt of spirits and offered to pagodas foods mixed with meat ingredients.

Despite the advice of her son Mục Kiền Liên who was a bonze of high virtue, she hardly listened to him. At her death, she joined the Kingdom of the Deaths and had to pay for the faults she had committed in the living world: sitting on a nail studded bed, carrying on her head a bucket full of blood, staying hungry and thirsty as any food that was brought to her mouth melted into blood and turned into flame.

When Mục Kiền Liên became enlightened, he could go down to the Kingdom of the Deaths to see his mother. He witnessed the punishments she suffered. He could not do anything to change the course of justice by the heavenly decree nor could he substitute for his mother. He had to go and see Buddha and request grace from the latter. Buddha ordered him to arrange the Vu Lan ceremony on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, during which he could solicit the withdrawing of sentence for his mother with prayers and alms.

Vietnamese Mother day

Upon coming back to earth, really austere and fervent Mục Kiền Liên, when came the day, set up an altar in honor of Buddha while giving alms and ferforming ceremony. In the Kingdom of the Deaths, Thanh Ðề understood the sufferings as she had gone through hunger and thirst. The hardships that she encountered brought her little by little from her naughty nature to the knowledge of remorse.

Mục Kiền Liên’s piety reached the gate of Heaven. The Holy Father reviewed Thanh Ðề’s case, found that she had been able to repent and acqitted her. Muc Kien Lien was allowed to go down to hell to bring his mother back to life. From then on, Thanh Ðề honored Buddha with all her heart, respected buddhist priests, helped the poor. Inspired by this example, pious children according to Vietnamese customs, on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, set up an altar in memory of the dead and give alms to the poor.

L’histoire de Mục Kiền Liên (Lễ Vu Lan)

muckienlien

 

English version

Comme les Européens, les Vietnamiens ont aussi la fête des Mères. C’est la fête du Vu Lan au 15è jour du 7ème mois lunaire.
Il était une fois une dame méchante au nom de Thanh Ðề. Elle était impitoyable envers les pauvres et surtout envers les mendiants. Elle ne faisait jamais aumône et chassait tout mendiant qui se présentait au portail de sa maison. Elle n’hésitait pas à piétiner des grains de riz, recueillis par les pauvres paysans s’échinant à longueur d’année sur leurs terres. Elle se moquait des bonzes et des bonzesses en cherchant à rompre leur quiétude. Elle blasphémait Bouddha, méprisait les esprits et offrait à la pagode des victuailles de jeûne auxquelles elle avait mêlé des aliments carnés.
Malgré les conseils de son fils Mục Kiền Liên qui fut un bonze de haute vertu, elle ne l’écoutait guère. A sa mort, elle rejoignit le Royaume des Morts et dut payer ses fautes commises dans le monde des vivants: s’asseoir sur un lit à clous, porter sur la tête un seau rempli de sang, rester affamée et assoiffée car tout aliment qu’on lui mettait dans sa bouche se fondait en sang et se muait en flamme.

Lễ Vu Lan

Mục Kiền Liên, une fois l’illumination atteinte, put descendre dans le Royaume des Morts pour voir sa mère. Il fut témoin des châtiments qu’elle encourut. Il ne put rien pour changer le cours justicier du décret céleste et ne put pas non plus se substituer à sa mère. Il fut obligé d’aller voir Bouddha et demanda grâce à ce dernier. Celui-ci lui ordonna d’organiser au 15ème jour du 7ème mois lunaire, la cérémonie de Vu Lan, au cours de laquelle il pourrait solliciter la remise de peine pour sa mère avec les prières et l’aumône.

De retour sur terre, Mục Kiền Liên, le jour venu, dressa un autel en hommage à Bouddha tout en faisant aumône et cérémonie bien austère et fervente. Thanh Ðề, dans le Royaume des Morts, prit conscience de la souffrance comme elle fut sensible à la faim et à la soif. Les difficultés qu’elle rencontrait l’amenaient à se départir au fur et à mesure de sa nature méchante et à connaître le remords. La piété de Mục Kiền Liên remua la porte du Ciel. Le père céleste réexamina le cas de Thanh Ðề, constata qu’elle avait pu se repentir et l’acquitta. Il fut permis à Mục Kiền Liên de descendre dans l’enfer ramener sa mère à la vie.

Depuis lors, Thanh Ðề, de tout coeur, honora Bouddha, respecta les bonzes, secourut les pauvres.  En s’inspirant de cet exemple, les enfants pieux, selon la coutume vietnamienne, au 15ème jour du 7ème mois lunaire, érigent un autel à la mémoire des défunts et font aumône aux pauvres.

The mistake (Thiếu phụ Nam Xương)

French version

thieu_phu_nam_xuong

Long time ago, there was a couple who lived in perfect happiness. They just had a baby when the war broke out. The husband was drafted and sent to combat at the frontiers. Days and nights, his wife was waiting for the return of her husband by pulling all her energy in the presence of her child. The child grew and began to speak. On an evening, a violent storm broke out. The thunder was rumbling so deafeningly shaking windows and doors. Seized by panic, the child started screaming. To calm him, his mother told him his father was there to protect him. She had the idea of showing her shadow on the wall and told him: « Don’t be afraid, your father is there. » The child look at the shadow and said to it: « Good evening, Daddy ». Reassured, the child went to sleep. From that day on, the child had the habit of claiming his father and said « Good evening » to him before going to bed, which required the woman to lean every night before the lamp to create her shadow.

Finally the war ended. The husband came home. The man discovered with tenderness and emotion the child he had left when he was still a baby. Instead of hugging his father, the child pushed him out with virulence: « Leave me alone, you’re not my father. My Dad only comes at night ». The husband, overwhelmed with grief and hurt in his pride, thought that his wife deceived him for another man and decided not to inquire further. From then on he kept a very frigid and distant attitude without taking care of either the child or his wife who continued to show him their love. The misunderstanding incited the man to depart one day without leaving any address.cierge

Time passed, the worried wife asked herself questions on the attitude of her husband and continued to wait for his return. Unfortunately, sorrow and despair took over the young woman on a beautiful day. She decided to put an end to her days by drowning herself in the river after having entrusted her child to the care of his kins.

Having learned of the death of his wife and taken by remorse, the man went back home. In the evening, when he lit the lamp, his son happy to see his shadow appear on the wall, yelled: There, my Daddy ». The man then knew his terrible misunderstanding. The next day, he took his son to the riverside to implore forgiveness from his wife. The man promised to himself to stay single until the end of his life to take care of the child and that no other women would replace her in his heart.

Thiếu phụ Nam Xương

La méprise (Thiếu phụ Nam Xương)

English version

thieu_phu_nam_xuong

Autrefois, il y avait un couple qui vivait dans un bonheur parfait. Il venait d’avoir un bébé lorsque la guerre éclata. Le mari fût enrôlé et envoyé combattre aux frontières. Jour et nuit, elle attendait le retour de son mari en puisant toute sa force dans la présence de son enfant. Celui-ci grandissait et commençait à parler. Un soir, un violent orage éclata. Le tonnerre était tellement assourdissant et faisait trembler les fenêtres et les portes. Pris de panique, l’enfant se mit à hurler. Pour le calmer, sa mère lui dit que son père était là et le protégeait. Elle eut l’idée de montrer son ombre sur le mur en lui disant: « N’aie pas peur, voilà ton père ». L’enfant regarda l’ombre et lui dit  » Bonsoir, papa ». Rassuré, l’enfant s’endormit. Depuis ce jour, l’enfant eut l’habitude de réclamer son père et de dire à ce dernier  » Bonsoir  » avant son coucher, ce qui obligea la femme à se pencher tous les soirs devant la lampe pour créer son ombre.

La guerre se termina enfin. Le mari revint à la maison. L’homme découvrait avec tendresse et émotion l’enfant qu’il avait quitté quand il était encore bébé. Au lieu d’embrasser son père, l’enfant le repoussa avec virulence: « Laissez-moi tranquille, vous n’êtes pas mon père. Celui-ci ne vient que la nuit. Le mari, assommé de douleur et blessé dans son amour propre, crut que sa femme le trompait avec un autre homme et décida de ne pas l’interroger. Il se montra dès lors très froid et distant sans se préoccuper ni de l’enfant ni de sa femme qui continuait à lui témoigner son amour. L’incompréhension incita l’homme à s’en aller un beau jour sans laisser aucune adresse.cierge

Les jours passèrent, la femme inquiète, se posait des questions sur l’attitude de son mari et continuait à attendre son retour. Malheureusement, la tristesse et le désespoir s’emparèrent un beau jour de cette jeune femme. Elle décida de mettre fin à ses jours en se noyant dans la rivière après avoir confié son enfant à ses proches.

Ayant appris la mort de sa femme et pris de remords, l’homme revint à la maison. Le soir, lorsqu’il alluma la lampe, son fils content de voir apparaître son ombre sur le mur, s’écria: « Voilà mon papa ». L’homme comprit alors sa terrible méprise. Le lendemain, il emmena son fils au bord de la rivière pour implorer le pardon de sa femme. L’homme lui promit de rester seul jusqu’à la fin de sa vie pour s’occuper de l’enfant et qu’aucune autre femme ne la remplacerait dans son cœur. 

La femme de Nam Xương

The Waiting Rock (Hòn Vọng Phu)

honvongphu

 

French version

This mountain, known as  » Núi Vọng Phu » (The Mountain of the Woman who is waiting for her husband) is located not far from Lạng Sơn, quite close to the Sino-Vietnamese border. At the top of the mountain is a rock bearing the shape of a standing woman holding her child in her arms. This resemblance is striking when the sun sets on the horizon. The tale of this mountain is so touching it becomes thus one of the legends preferred by Vietnamese and gives so much inspiration to Vietnamese poets, in particular composer Lê Thương through his three songs Hòn Vọng Phu I, II and III presented here in format mp3.

 

Long time ago, in a village on the highland region, lived two orphans, one was a young man about twenty years old, the other was his seven years old sister. Because they were alone in this world, they were all one for the other. On a beautiful day, a traveling astrologer told the young man when he consulted him on their future:

<< If I’m not mistaken, you will fatally marry your sister with all your days and hours of your births. Nothing could turn the course of your destiny >>.
Tormented by this terrible prediction, he decided to kill his sister on a beautiful morning when he suggested to take her to the forest to cut wood. Taking advantage of his sister’s inattention, he felled her with a stroke of ax and fled. He decided to change his name and resettled in Lang Son. Many years went by. On a beautiful day he married a merchant’s daughter who gave him a son and made him happy.

On a beautiful morning, he found his wife sitting in the back yard drying her long black hair under the sunshine. At the time when she glided the comb on her hair that she lifted with her other hand, he discovered a long scar above the back of her neck. Surprised, he asked her for its cause. Hesitating, she began to tell the story crying:

<< I am only the adoptive daughter of the merchant. Orphaned, I lived with my brother who, fifteen years ago for unknown reasons, injured me with a blow of an ax and abandoned me in the forest. I was rescued by the robbers who sold me to this merchant who had just lost his daughter and who was sorry for my situation. I don’t know what happened to my brother and it is hard for me to explain his insensitive act. However we love each other so much.>>

The husband overcame his emotion and asked his wife for information concerning her father’s and brother’s names and her native village. Taken by remorse while keeping for himself the frightening secret, he was ashamed and horrified himself. He tries to stay away from his wife and his son by taking advantage of the military draft to enroll in the army and hoping to find the delivery on the battleground.

From the day of his departure, in ignorance of the truth, his wife waited for him with patience and resignation. Every evening, she took her son in her arms and climbed up the mountain looking out for the return of her husband. She made the same gesture for entire years.

On a beautiful day, reaching the top of the mountain, exhausted and stayed standing, her eyes fixed to the horizon, she was changed into rock and immobile in her eternal wait.

La montagne de l’attente (Hòn vọng phu)

English version
honvongphu

Cette montagne, connue sous le nom  » Núi Vọng Phu » (ou la Montagne de la femme qui attend son mari) est située non loin de Lạng Sơn, tout proche de la frontière sino-vietnamienne. Au sommet de cette montagne se dresse un rocher rappelant la forme d’une femme debout avec son enfant dans ses bras. Cette ressemblance est étonnante lors du coucher du soleil à l’horizon. Le récit sur ce rocher est tellement émouvant qu’il devient ainsi l’une des légendes préférées des Vietnamiens et qu’il donne tant d’inspirations aux poètes vietnamiens, en particulier au compositeur Lê Thương à travers ses trois chansons Hòn Vọng Phu I, II et III. (Hòn Vọng Phu).


 

Autrefois, dans un village de la haute région, vivaient deux orphelins, l’un, un jeune garçon d’une vingtaine d’années et l’autre, sa soeur n’ayant que sept ans. Comme ils étaient seuls au monde, ils étaient tout l’un pour l’autre. Un beau jour, un astrologue de passage dit au jeune garçon lors de la consultation sur leur avenir:

<< Si je ne me trompe pas, vous épouserez fatalement votre soeur avec les jours et les heures de vos naissances. Rien ne pourra détourner le cours de votre destin >>.

Tourmenté par cette terrible prédiction, il décida de tuer un beau matin sa soeur en proposant d’emmener cette dernière dans la forêt pour aller couper du bois. Profitant de l’inattention de sa soeur, il l’abattit d’un coup de hache et s’enfuit. Il décida de changer de nom et de s’établir à Lang Son. De nombreuses années passèrent. Il épousa un beau jour la fille d’un commerçant. Celle-ci lui donna un garçon et le rendit heureux.

Un beau matin, il trouva dans la cour intérieure sa femme en train de sécher ses longs cheveux noirs et assise en plein soleil. Au moment où celle-ci faisait glisser le peigne sur la chevelure qu’elle soulevait de l’autre main, il découvrît une longue cicatrice au dessus de sa nuque. Abasourdi, il lui en demanda la cause. Hésitante, elle commença à raconter son histoire en pleurant:

<< Je ne suis que la fille adoptive du commerçant. Orpheline, je vivais avec mon frère qui, pour des raisons inconnues, il y avait quinze ans, me blessa d’un coup de hache et m’abandonna dans la forêt. Je fus sauvée par les brigands qui m’ont revendue à un commerçant qui venait de perdre sa fille et qui avait pitié de ma situation. Je ne sais pas ce qu’est devenu mon frère et il est difficile pour moi d’expliquer son geste insensé. Pourtant nous nous aimions tellement.>>

Le mari maîtrisa son émotion et demanda à sa femme les renseignements concernant le nom de son père, celui de son frère et de son village natal. Pris par le remords tout en gardant pour lui l’épouvantable secret, il eut honte et horreur de lui-même. Il s’efforça de s’éloigner de sa femme et de son enfant en profitant de la mobilisation décrétée pour s’enrôler dans l’armée et en espérant trouver la délivrance sur le champ de bataille.

Depuis son départ, dans l’ignorance de la vérité, sa femme attendit, patiente et résignée. Chaque soir, elle prenait son garçon dans ses bras et grimpait sur la montagne pour guetter le retour de son mari. Elle faisait le même geste depuis tant d’années.

Un beau jour, arrivée au sommet de la montagne, épuisée et restée debout, les yeux fixés à l’horizon, elle fut changée en pierre, immobile dans son éternelle attente. 

The Mudras of Buddha (Thủ Ấn)

French version

mudra_bouddha

The symbolic gestures

of Buddha icone_lotus

Depending on the manufacturing country of Buddha statue, the artist can represent it in a different way. By contrast, there is always some immutable ritual characters that he must observe scrupulously in the Buddhist statuary. This is the case of the position and gestures of the Buddha’s hands (mudras). Being limited in number, the latter, complemented by the body posture (asana), allows the faithful to benefit of the teaching and philosophy of Buddhism. One is accustomed to associate these symbolic gestures to the various episodes in the Buddha life (meditation under the Bodhi tree, taking the earth as witness, first predicate at Sarnath etc …). Instead of Buddhist texts to whom a very few people have acces, these mudras in the iconographic representations of Buddha are genuine tools for religious transmission. The picture is more meaningful because it is based on simple gestures and readable by all in place of Buddhist texts which are sometimes incomprehensible. The mudras that are initially designed by the yogis and priests of the Vedic epoch in India will be retrieved and interpreted by Mahayana sects to become over time, one of the techniques of highly codified representation. They thus constitute a language extremely powerful because through a number of signs and symbols, this allows you to identify the sacred character, to define its rank and to evoke its qualities.© Đặng Anh Tuấn

no images were found

 

Thủ Ấn

This is the case of the divinities of Buddhist pantheon (Bodhisattvas, Amithâba etc. . ). That is what we also find in multiple practices having a religious character (dances, rituals, meditations etc ..) without forget to remind what we have also seen in the Christian iconography with its saints placed at the entrance of the Middle Ages cathedrals. Some important mudras are frequently encountered in the Buddhist iconography.

 Anhaya mudra 

Absence of fear mudra

img_8834

(Ấn xúc địa) 

Taking the earth as witness with his right hand

It is the Bhumiparsha-mudra. In this gesture, one sees that his right arm hangs down over the right knee while his left hand is raised in front of his belly on his legs in position of lotus. He took the earth as witness and he called Goddess of the earth Torani to his rescue. To kill the hordes of evil represented by Mara, this godhead provoked the waves by letting down her hair. This mudra announced the imminence of the awakening. At the end of this meditation, he will announce the Four Noble Truths (Tứ Diệu Đế): Dukka (suffering), Samudaya (insatiable hunger), Nirohda (extinction of suffering) and Marga Sacca ( Buddha way towards extinction) to achieve nirvana (final liberation).
img_8814

Charity mudra  (Varada mudra)

Meditation mudra (Ấn thiền)

Buddha have been sitting with both hands in front of his belly, palms returned, on his legs crossed in lotus. It is the dhyana-mudra that is often found in zen school. This is the meditation period of Buddha under the tree of awakening (Bodhi) in Bihar.

Argument mudra (Ấn giáo hóa)

Sitting in position of lotus, Buddha maintains his right hand to the height of his shoulder, palm facing outward, the thumb and index finger touching and the other fingers being raised. This posture corresponds well to the discussion and argument.

The sweet cake rice (Bánh chưng bánh dầy)

gateau_de_riz

French version

The sweet rice cake

The son of the first king of Van Lang, the Vietnam of long time ago, reigned under the name of Hùng Vương. He had three wives, each of them gave birth to a boy. The son of the first wife, Long married Kim who was arrogant and jealous. The son of the second, Ho married Ngoc who was naughty and sharp tongued toward her husband. The son of the deceased third wife, Vân, lived with his maternal grandmother and farmed for a living. He practiced the slash and burn agriculture, grew vegetables or went fishing in his spare time. His grandmother married Van to Xuân, a wise and hard working young woman in the village. The couple led a modest but happy life.

One day, summoned by the king, they had to sell their buffaloes to prepare for the trip to the court. There, they saw their elder brothers and their wives dress elegantly and adorned with jewels. Van and Xuan felt confused. Everyone mocked and scorned at them for going to see the king in such a simple appearance.

However, the king showed afection to Vân, an orphan of mother. Burdened by old age and a reign of 50 years, the king wanted to leave the throne to whoever could prapare the most tasty foods. The spouse of the elder brothers, confident of their talent, rivaled for getting the throne to their husbands. Only Vân and Xuan were worried because they were very poor.

One night, in a dream, Van saw his mother who let him know he would be selected for the throne. It would be sufficient for him to make a sweet rice cake in the form of a square with meat and bacon in the middle of it to symbolise the heart. The square cake represented the earth because at that time people thought the earth was square. Vân woke up and recalled the dream to his wife. The couple decided to follow the advice of their mother to make the cake, and to boil it in a terra cotta pot.

On the scheduled day, the two brothers Kim and Ngọc offered to the king expensive dishes. But the latter did not find anything exceptional. As for the cakes offered by Vân and Xuân, the king was excited by their delicateness and meaning. ( One should govern the country with wisdom). He showered Van with praises and designated him to be his successor. For his generosity, Van did not hesitate to give his brothers the title of viscount.

The sweet rice cake ( or bánh chưng in Vietnamese ) is one of the traditional delicacies of the Vietnamese people during the Tết festival. It is eaten with caramel marinated stewed pork.

Gâteau de riz gluant (Bánh chưng bánh dầy)

English version

 

Le fils du premier roi de Văn-Lang, le Viêtnam d’autrefois, régnait sous le nom de Hùng-Vương. Il avait trois épouses, chacune d’elles donnant naissance à un garçon. Le fils de la première, Long, épousa Kim, orgueilleuse et jalouse. Le fils de la seconde, Hồ, épousa Ngọc, méchante et acariâtre envers son mari. Le fils de la troisième décédée, Lang Liêu, vivait avec sa grand’mère maternelle et s’occupait des travaux agricoles. Il pratiquait la culture sur brûlis, cultivait les légumes ou allait pêcher aux heures de loisir. La grand’mère maria Lang Liêu à Xuân, une demoiselle sage et laborieuse du village. Le couple menait une vie modeste mais heureuse.

Un jour, convoqués par le roi, ils devaient vendre leurs deux buffles pour préparer le voyage. A la cour, ils virent leurs aînés et leurs épouses habillés élégamment et parés de bijoux. Lang Liêu et Xuân se sentaient confus. Tout le monde se moquait d’eux en leur reprochant de se présenter au roi sous une simple apparence.

Par contre, le roi se montrait affectueux pour Lang Liêu, orphelin de mère. Accablé par la vieillesse et en règne depuis 50 ans, le roi voulut céder le trône à celui qui put préparer les mets les plus savoureux. Les épouses des deux grands, confiantes de leur talent, rivalisaient pour gagner le trône à leur mari. Seuls, Lang Liêu et Xuân étaient très inquiets car ils étaient très pauvres.

Une nuit, dans un songe, Lang Liêu vit sa mère qui lui fit savoir qu’il serait l’élu du trône. Il lui suffisait de faire un gâteau de riz gluant, en forme de carré avec de la viande, de la graisse au milieu pour symboliser le coeur. Le gâteau carré représentait la terre car on croyait à cette époque que la terre était carrée. Lang Liêu se réveilla et raconta le songe à sa femme. Le couple décida de suivre les conseils de leur mère pour confectionner les gâteaux, puis les faire bouillir dans une marmite en argile cuite.

Au jour fixé, les deux brus Kim et Ngọc offrirent au roi des plats coûteux. Mais ce dernier ne trouva rien d’exceptionnel. Quant aux gâteaux offerts par Lang Liêu et Xuân, il fut ravi par leur délicatesse et par leur signification. (Il fallait gouverner le pays avec sagesse). Il combla Lang Liêu de louanges et le désigna comme son successeur. Pour sa générosité, Lang Liêu n’hésita à élever au titre de vicomtes ses frères.

Le gâteau de riz gluant (ou bánh chưng en vietnamien) est l’une des friandises traditionnelles des Vietnamiens lors de la fête du Tết. On le sert souvent avec du porc au caramel. Ce gâteau est aussi  la preuve intangible de la théorie  du Yin et du Yang et de ses cinq éléments appartenant à Bai Yue (ou Cent Yue)  dont les Proto-Vietnamiens faisaient partie car on retrouve  dans  sa confection le cycle d’engendrement  de ces 5 éléments.

(Feu->Terre->Métal->Eau->Bois)

À l’intérieur du gâteau, on  trouve un  morceau de viande de porc  de couleur rouge (le Feu) entouré une sorte de pâte faite avec des fèves de couleur jaune  (la Terre).  Le tout est enveloppé par  le riz gluant de couleur blanche (le Métal) pour  être cuit avec de l’eau bouillante (l’Eau) avant d’avoir la coloration verte sur sa surface grâce aux feuilles de latanier (le Bois).

gateau_de_riz

Version anglaise

The sweet rice cake

The son of the first king of Van Lang, the Vietnam of long time ago, reigned under the name of Hùng Vương. He had three wives, each of them gave birth to a boy. The son of the first wife, Long married Kim who was arrogant and jealous. The son of the second, Ho married Ngoc who was naughty and sharp tongued toward her husband. The son of the deceased third wife, Vân, lived with his maternal grandmother and farmed for a living. He practiced the slash and burn agriculture, grew vegetables or went fishing in his spare time. His grandmother married Van to Xuân, a wise and hard working young woman in the village. The couple led a modest but happy life.

One day, summoned by the king, they had to sell their buffaloes to prepare for the trip to the court. There, they saw their elder brothers and their wives dress elegantly and adorned with jewels. Van and Xuan felt confused. Everyone mocked and scorned at them for going to see the king in such a simple appearance.

However, the king showed afection to Vân, an orphan of mother. Burdened by old age and a reign of 50 years, the king wanted to leave the throne to whoever could prapare the most tasty foods. The spouse of the elder brothers, confident of their talent, rivaled for getting the throne to their husbands. Only Vân and Xuan were worried because they were very poor.

One night, in a dream, Van saw his mother who let him know he would be selected for the throne. It would be sufficient for him to make a sweet rice cake in the form of a square with meat and bacon in the middle of it to symbolise the heart. The square cake represented the earth because at that time people thought the earth was square. Vân woke up and recalled the dream to his wife. The couple decided to follow the advice of their mother to make the cake, and to boil it in a terra cotta pot.

On the scheduled day, the two brothers Kim and Ngọc offered to the king expensive dishes. But the latter did not find anything exceptional. As for the cakes offered by Vân and Xuân, the king was excited by their delicateness and meaning. ( One should govern the country with wisdom). He showered Van with praises and designated him to be his successor. For his generosity, Van did not hesitate to give his brothers the title of viscount.

The sweet rice cake ( or bánh chưng in Vietnamese ) is one of the traditional delicacies of the Vietnamese people during the Tết festival. It is eaten with caramel marinated stewed pork. This cake is the intangible proof of Yin and Yang theory and 5 elements belonging to Bai Yue (Hundred Yue), the Proto-Vietnamese of which formed part  because there is  the generation cycle (Ngũ hành tương sinh)  in its composition. 

(Fire->Earth->Metal->Water->Wood)

Inside the cake, one finds a piece of porkmeat in red color ( Fire ) around which there is  a kind of paste made with broad beans in yellow color ( Earth ). The whole thing is wrapped by the sticky rice in white color ( Metal ) to be cooked with boiling water ( Water ) before having a green colouring on its surface thanks to the latanier leaves (Wood).

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