Buying and selling luck at annual Vieng markets

09:29 | 21/03/2018 Culture & Art

(VEN) - People from all over Vietnam flock to the Vieng markets in Nam Dinh Province on the seventh and eighth days of the first lunar month to buy luck, sell misfortune and pray for a prosperous new year.

buying and selling luck at annual vieng markets
People flock to the Vieng markets despite rain

Humanistic values

Nobody knows precisely when the Vieng markets were established. Documented records date them to the time of the Tran Dynasty that ruled the country from 1225 to 1400.

The markets are an open-air fair displaying a wide variety of goods, from local farm produce, specialty crops and ornamental plants, to craft articles, daily utensils, bronze and steel tools, worship articles, antiques and imitation antiques, jewelry and toys.

buying and selling luck at annual vieng markets
The Vieng markets are a destination for antique lovers

Market goers believe they will enjoy luck and prosperity in the new year if they can buy or sell goods as early as possible, making the market a spiritual rather than commercial event. Thus, no bargaining takes place between buyers and sellers. Trade is based on spiritual beliefs.

buying and selling luck at annual vieng markets
Beef is a specialty sold in the Vieng markets

There are four Vieng markets in the northern province of Nam Dinh: Vieng Phu Day Market in Vu Ban District, Vieng Nam Giang Market in Nam Truc District, Vieng Nghia Thinh Market in Nghia Hung District, and Vieng My Trung Market in My Loc District. The Vieng Phu Day Market in Vu Ban District appears to be most attractive to visitors.

People flock there from across the country to pray for a prosperous new year, to conserve traditional customs, or just to enjoy the atmosphere of spring and look for antiques.

The Vieng markets also feature folk games and traditional performances, such as cock-fighting, chess playing, Chinese chess, wrestling, puppetry, water puppetry, calligraphy art work, and making to he (toy figurines).

Honoring craft village values

Vieng market sellers do not offer luxurious goods, but rather simple instruments for agricultural production, such as ploughs, mattocks, knives and reaping-hooks, or countryside food, such as sweet potatoes, green tea, peanut candy, and noodle soup with rare beef prepared by residents in Giao Cu Village.

Beef and different kinds of food made with beef are the most famous among the goods sold in the Vieng markets.

According to the elderly in Nam Dinh Province, beef is sold in the Vieng markets because it is associated with the legend about Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh of Phu Day Temple. In olden days, residents of Nam Dinh and people from other parts of the country often used beef as an offering to Mother Goddess Lieu Hanh when going to Phu Day Temple.

On the occasion of the Vieng Market Festival, grilled beef is sold alongside the roads leading to the markets. A kilogram of grilled beef costs from VND230,000-320,000. Although beef in the Vieng markets is sold at higher prices compared with other markets, almost every visitor tries to buy some for luck.

Besides beef, the Vieng markets also sell seedlings and bonsais from Vi Khe Village, mechanical and aluminum products made in the forge villages of Van Chang and Dong Coi in Nam Truc District, bamboo and rattan products of Vinh Hao Commune (Vu Ban District), and lacquer-ware made in the Cat Dang craft village (Y Yen District). Prices vary, ranging from VND5,000-10,000 per seedling; from VND30,000 to millions of dong per bonsai; several tens of thousands of dong per farming tool. Stalls selling antiquities at prices ranging from several tens of thousands to millions of dong attract many visitors.

According to the Vieng Market Festival Organizing Board, in the past, these markets sold mostly products made by local residents, but today, under the mechanism of the market-oriented economy, they sell a wide range of goods sourced from not only Nam Dinh but also other localities, such as Thai Binh, Thanh Hoa and Ninh Binh.

Thanh Tam