The pagoda’s head monk told the diplomat about the history of the pagoda and Vietnamese traditions during the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival.

For his part, the US Ambassador said this is the third time he has celebrated Tet in Vietnam. In his first year, he learned how to make banh chung (square glutinous rice cake) and the story behind the cake. Last year, he visited a peach blossom garden and was showed how to tend ornamental plants for Tet.

Kritenbrink shared his plan for Tet in Hanoi, saying that he wants to spend time with his family and friends and enjoy traditional Vietnamese dishes, especially banh chung.

US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink on January 15 performed the Vietnamese traditional New Year ritual of releasing carps into a lake to bid farewell to the Kitchen Gods at Kim Lien pagoda in Hanoi

The diplomat underlined that 2020 is an important milestone for the US and Vietnam as the countries will celebrate the 25th founding anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

For Vietnamese, Tet, the biggest yearly festival, has actually begun with the "Ong Cong - Ong Tao" (Land Genie and Kitchen Gods) ceremony on the 23rd of the last month of the lunar year, which falls on January 17 this year.

On this day, every family is staging a farewell ceremony for the Land Genie and the Kitchen Gods on their yearly visit of Heaven.

The Kitchen Gods, the guardian spirit of the kitchen, are believed to comprise two male gods and one female, who bless the household and keep up the kitchen fire, making every member of the family happy and well-off.

As the legend goes, the Land Genie and the Kitchen Gods will ride carps to Heaven on the day to deliver an annual report on the household's activities to the God of Heaven.

As the gods make their journey on the back of the fish, it has become a custom to release live carps into lakes or rivers, which is considered a kind-hearted deed to pray for good luck.

Source: VNA