New Lunar Year of the Earth Pig Blessings

We visited this gorgeous Chinese temple in Vietnam to offer blessings for the new Lunar Year - which is symbolised by the Earth Pig this year. The Pig is seen as extremely lucky for business and many business people came specifically to this temple to pray and give offerings to their Buddhists Gods. Offerings were surprisingly in the form of a whole roast pig (no vegetarians here!), flowers, cakes and garlands. Rituals were going on all around at the many statues inside the temple, by way of burning copious amounts of incense (which was the cheap kind unfortunately - and oh gosh did I have a sore throat when leaving. A janitor was taking all the lit sticks away almost immediately after they were placed in the alter by people, as the smoke was so full on - thankfully it’s nowhere even close to the high quality herbal incense sticks we sell).

Rituals - Superstitions - Blessings

In the temple in front of two stone carved tigers there was also a fascinating ritual involving burning lots of paper, which held their wishes for the new year. A woman fanned the smoke over the devotee, chanting words and performing a kind of fortune telling session at the end, where wooden rune-like chips were thrown down to see if it would come true or not! The Chinese do seem incredibly superstitious and some of the rituals seemed, to an outsider like me, a little disassociated from perhaps the original ancient concept. I mainly say this as the smoke billowing from the burning paper and cheap brightly coloured incense sticks was intoxicating. It’s makes you wonder if all this is just blindly following a set of traditions, which may have begun in a powerful symbolic way in shamanic times, but now lacks slight clarity of purpose - a little like our penchant for chopping down Christmas trees and then throwing them in the bin three weeks later (this makes me feel so sad, so unnecessary), also the excessive present buying - although I do feel this has calmed down a little of late as people realise that was about commerce and showing, rather than remembering and truly honouring. However I am sure that some rituals do go on there, which deeply infuse the energy of transformation and help devotees reflect and move through life experiences.

This time of year is very busy in the temple, it was a wash with people hurrying to say their prayers and wishes for the coming year. Although I mainly find nature provides the deepest spiritual connection for me now, I do adore visiting these places, just to get a flavour of the culture. To see the depth of these rituals and where they come from - and to also to connect with a higher power inside myself. I refrained from asking the Gods for more money and a successful business (ha) and decided to give thanks instead for this life experience. Often painful and terribly confusing, the arresting intensity of simply ‘being’ for me at the moment is pushing me to use all I have learnt - to face what comes up on my path and walk over the burning coals of life. There is no other way, only through the experience; eyes up, open, feeling every moment deep in the core of this wonderful, messy, fleeting life we have been given.

Emma Leafe