Impressions of Saigon's Lantern Market in District 5
When you first come to Asia, all you see is flashy colours, especially since red is the colour of luck and therefore everywhere.
However, during holidays it gets even flashier. Lantern festival draws close at the end of Lunar September (the "Ghost Month"). A very special and interesting festival of light and colour.
Similar to our habit in Austria on 11th November (St. Martin), when especially the children carry colourful lanterns and sing songs, children in Asia do the same - for another reason though.
Another reason? Well, if you compare customs all around the world, they may seem very different. But if you dig deeper, you find stunning similarities.
Bright colours and light are destined to chase away the dark, the evil and similar unwanted aspects of life. Since lantern festival is the end of the ghost month in Vietnam, a time that can be compared to the original European meaning of Halloween (our world and the netherworld are coming closer and the separating veil gets thinner), it's pretty clear that people want to protect themselves with bright lights and flashy colours from evil spirits roaming the streets.
Even more so, families tend to set up tables in front of their house, displaying lights and a selection of (usually quite cheap) snacks for the haunting dead - if you give them some food, they leave you alone.
When I asked my guide if I could snatch and eat some of the stuff, she said "Sure, but people would assume you are a ghost."
There are other customs during this time, like throwing real money out of the window to make any malicious or just suffering ghost happy.
And since in Asia, any body can be possessed by a spirit, nobody minds if the money and food goes to the homeless - an interesting form of charity.
Red is the most powerful colour across Asia, so on the lantern markets it is dominant.
Turns out, apart from the roadside kitchens, the bright colours are among the things I really miss, being away from our second home for so long.
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