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Duanwu, festival of killing inner insects in Vietnam


14:19, June 11, 2013

HANOI, June 11 (Xinhua) -- "Vietnamese people believe that there are so many kinds of parasites living inside human body which appear the most at the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. As such, people try to kill those inner parasites on that day," Nguyen Thi Ty introduced Xinhua reporters in Hanoi about Duanwu festival in Vietnam.

Duanwu festival is believed to be derived from China, but it is widely known in Vietnam as the festival to kill inner insects. The festival has been celebrated for a long time in Vietnam.

"When I was a kid, I often followed my parents to celebrate the festival. According to tradition, this occasion is to celebrate new harvest season. People make cakes from newly- harvested rice to offer to ancestors to express their respect," the 65-year-old retired college teacher said.

"The ritual is conducted at noon time. The offerings often include fruits, sticky rice cake and fermented sticky rice putting on the altar."

"Eating these things is believed to clean our digest system. As I remember, after waking up in the morning, people do not get out of bed and clean their mouth with water for three times, then eat a boiled egg, one bowl of fermented sticky rice, which is believed to make inner parasites to get drunk. After fermented sticky rice, sour fruits are eaten in order to kill the parasites," Ty said.

"This is the fermented sticky rice," Ty said, while showing a bowl with light yellow-colored fermented sticky rice with mildly alcoholic flavor.

"This is made from ordinary sticky rice. There is another kind of purplish-red sticky rice whose color is more beautiful. Eating fermented sticky rice is believed to make inner parasites to get drunk and then being killed. I saw my mother making fermented sticky rice when I was small. The sticky rice is steamed first then mixed with yeast. The mix then will be kept for about one week until it is fermented."

Ty recalled when she was a kid, her parents also took a kind of leave to dye fingernails. "After applying the leave onto fingernails for one night, they will turn to beautiful red color. People believe that apart from cleaning the digest system, the parasites on fingernails also must be removed. The color can be kept for one year."

Until now, Ty still keeps her habit of preparing for the festival every year.

Ty said that she wants to keep the tradition alive and to transfer it to the young generations. However, due to the busy daily life, especially in urban cities, not every procedure of the festival is conducted.

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