At the event, a 15-metre bamboo pole was carried by a group of 10 men dressed as soldiers under the Nguyen Dynasty in a procession from the Hien Nhon Gate through the Thai Hoa Palace to arrive at the Ancestral Temple, where it was erected. The ritual was held in the sound of ‘nha nhac cung dinh’ (royal court music).
The same day, similar ceremonies also took place at the Temple of Original Ancestor and Long An Palace within the city’s Complex of Hue Monuments.
The erection of the Neu on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month marks the beginning of Tet. It coincides with the day when the Kitchen Gods are believed to ride a carp to the 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 carries ritual items on its top, like a royal seal, a paper scroll and pen, which imply that the royal court stopped working during Tet. After the ceremony, ordinary people would erect their own Neu and start celebrating Tet.
The Neu is also believed to ward off ghosts and demons from entering the community during Tet. It would also direct ancestors seeking the path home for the lunar New Year holiday. The custom is also practised in some Asian countries besides Vietnam.
It will be taken down on the seventh day of the first lunar month to mark the end of the Tet celebration.
Also on January 28, the 23rd day of the 12th month of the Year of the Dog, the Hue Relics Preservation Centre started a Tet programme which treats visitors to royal court and folk games, calligraphy performances, dragon dance, and a contest on making traditional Tet food.