Spring in Vietnam, especially in the north, is the time that almost every person visits pagodas wishing for a great lucky year ahead. This is a traditional side of Vietnam's culture.
Most people choose the Perfume Pagoda, Yen Tu Pagoda for destinations outside of Hanoi. Some people choose the most famous pagodas in Hanoi such as the Defence Pagoda, the One Pillar Pagoda and Phu Tay Ho for their city destinations. By going to these places at this time of the year, you can see thousands of people coming to do the same thing - preparing food, incense, drinks and very long wish lists of paper. I joined with my friends the last few years for fun and to take photos even though I don't follow any religion and I'm not a very ceremonial guy. I love to go these pagodas and temple because I like to see people doing their little prayers, talking to them and it's nice to see people maintaining their traditional culture.
I remembered last year seeing my friends spend almost twenty minutes just praying and reading their wish lists. I asked them why they had to spent so much time on these things and God cannot listen to theirs as well as thousands of people's wishes at the same time. They told me that's the way it is and just smiled. Maybe I should do the same thing instead of just lighting a few insence sticks:). It's also not easy to reach the altar as hundreds of people are crowded in with their full trays of fruit, food and a huge cooked chicken on their heads. There is a very special service where people can change big notes to small notes - 500 dong, 1000 dong, 2000 dong and 5000 dong. Most people put the money on their food trays and on the altars or give it to beggars in the hope that some of it comes back during the year.
I will join with my friends again to go to some pagodas on the weekends and hope that I can take some good photos and show you guys some new stories about these pagoda festivals soon.