Trao nghị quyết bổ nhiệm chức danh Hiệu trưởng Trường Đại học Trà Vinh, nhiệm kỳ 2021 - 2025

Trao quyền bổ nhiệm chức vụ Hiệu trưởng Trường Đại học Trà Vinh, nhiệm kỳ 2021-2025  Chiều ngày 20/5, tại Trường Đại học Trà Vinh (ĐHTV), quyền ủy quyền của Hội đồng Nhà nước, Hội đồng Trường ĐHTV tổ chức lễ công bố và trao quyền bổ nhiệm chức danh Hiệu trưởng; các công nhận chức danh Phó Giáo sư. Đến dự, có ông Ngô Trường Giang, Phó Giám đốc Sở Nội vụ tỉnh Trà Vinh; ông Trần Hoàn Kim, Chủ tịch Hội đồng Tư vấn Trường; PGS.TS Phạm Tiết Khánh, Chủ tịch Hội đồng Trường ĐHTV, đại diện lãnh đạo các...


Phúc Kiến (Phúc Kiến) Người th…

Atsuko Tshuchiya - Kobe University, Japan Bài báo này đã được trình bày tại Hội thảo Quốc tế, ngày 27-28 tháng 8 năm 2015 tại Trường Đại học Trà Vinh, Việt Nam. 1   ...


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The activities of Chinese immigrants along the Hau River have been detailed in Sakurai’s study (Sakurai 2000). From a historical and geographical standpoint, his study found that in early modern times, Chinese immigrants played important pioneering roles in the Indochinese peninsula. In particular, those Chinese who had immigrated to the Hau River area traded with the Chinese immigrants in Thailand and ran prosperous businesses through the Hau River. Moreover, these Chinese immigrants were connected with those settled in Soc Tran, Bac Lieu, and even far-off Ha Tien.

While Chinese immigrants actively traded in the Mekong Delta area, what was the societal situation in Tra Vinh?

Few descriptions exist of the Chinese immigrants in Tra Vinh province compared with of those in other provinces in the Mekong Delta. According to the official population statistics in 1884, Cooke (2004: 140) described the situation as a mixed society, stating that “ethnic Viets formed almost 90 percent of the general Cochinchinese population, with an estimated 105,333 Khmers comprising a tiny 6.5 percent and the 50,526 declared Chinese an even smaller 3 percent. However, in Chau Doc, Soc Trang, and Rach Gia, plus Tra Vinh…… things were different. These four areas contained fewer than 16 percent of the total declared local populations, but in a ratio of 58 percent Vietnamese, 35.5 percent Khmer, and 4 percent Chinese. Comparing these provinces to the rest of Cochinchina highlights their exceptional nature.”

Moreover, Cooke (2004:140) insisted that a considerable number of Sino-Vietnamese (Minh Huong) and Sino-Khmer were “undoubtedly hidden in the wider total.” In 1901, the colonial administrator reported the population statistics in Tra Vinh province in Monographie De La Province De Tra-Vinh (1903) as follows:


* Included Mestizo with the status of French citizens. There were 40 French people.

Metis indigenes                ………………………………….3

Annamites orginaines de la Cochinchine……….107,720

---                            des Protectorats  …………778

Minh-Huongs             …………………………….3,540

Chinois                                …………………………….6,397

Cambodgiens             ……………………………66,607

Malais                          …………………………………47

Indiens                                    …………………………………32

                                       Total            …………………185,464

The official population statistics under the French typical showed that there also was a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, Sino-Vietnamese, and  Khmer people in Tra Vinh province (1903: 38-39).

The current ethnic population —particularly the ethnic Chinese (Hoa) population—has changed considerably. According to the 2009 census, the total population of Tra Vinh province amounted to 1,003,012 people, comprising 677,649 Kinh (the Viet); 7,690 ethnic Chinese; and 317,203 Khmer people. Therefore, the ratio of ethnic Chinese was 7 percent of the total population. However, the ratio of ethnic Chinese was significantly lower in rural areas, at only approximately 1 percent of the total population.

Though the social environment in Tra Vinh has varied from the past to the present, how has the situation of the Chinese in rural areas changed? This report aims to show some of the Chinese involvement in the changing life in the rural area in Dai An village of Tra Cu county in Tra Vinh province.

Tra Cu province was originally an area where the Khmer lived. While the ethnic Chinese population may initially seem small, more than half the ethnic Chinese live in Tra Vinh City and a certain number of ethnic Chinese live in Tra Cu province and Tieu Can province along the Hau River. There are also many people of mixed race background such as the Chinese-Vietnamese or the Chinese-Khmer among the people who identify as Vietnamese or Khmer (Takada 2000: 26–27).

The large ethnic Chinese population of Tra Cu county was noted in Takada’s paper on Tra Vinh. According to the statistics, the population in each of the seven counties and one city in Tra Vinh province in 1995 was made up of 74,578 Kinh, 2,106 ethnic Chinese, and 86,729 Khmer, a total of 163,482 people. This shows that at this time the Khmer in Tra Cu county had the highest population, but the number of ethnic Chinese was second highest in Tra Vinh province (Takada 2000: 27). In other words, the ethnic structure of Tra Cu county shows the diverse ethnic cultural mix in Tra Vinh province.

The Chinese temples in Dai An village in Tra Cu county were chosen as the subject of this paper because these were founded in the early days and have attracted increasing attention in recent years.

There are three characteristic Chinese temples (Phuoc Thang Cung, Bao An Mieu, and Dinh Minh Huong) in Dian village in Tra Cu county. Tra Cu county is an area of dunes, and therefore many canals have been built. The three Chinese temples have easy access to the canals and there is also a main road leading to central Tra Vinh City. The people who assemble at the Chinese temples in this rural village are considered to be descendants of the typical Chinese immigrants who came as merchants in the early days and settled down here.

This paper considers Dinh Minh Huong as the object of study because it was recently restored and there has been an increase in annual events, so the social situation at this temple has begun to change in recent years. The progress of these changes and the activities of the people visiting the temple are significant issues. It appears that aspects of the Chinese descendants are changing in this rural village, which become apparent by observing the people who surround the local Chinese temples.

This paper also focuses attention on the name Dinh Minh Huong. This temple seems to be the ancestral hall of “Minh Huong” (Chinese-Vietnamese). While this possibility is not  denied in this report, we do discuss whether this temple is the ancestral hall of “Minh Huong.” Nonetheless, the importance of Dinh Minh Huong in Dai An village is clear.

In particular, this report emphasizes the annual events at Dinh Minh Huong. How are events performed at this temple and what kind of people gather at these events? The aim is to show how participants behave and how they talk about past as well as present events, to elucidate the situation at the temple. An observation of these events shows that participants take the role of benefactor for the local residents and maintain the relationship between this temple and other Chinese temples.

The results shown here are based on collaborative research on Chinese religious facilities in Tra Vinh Province in Vietnam in 2012 and 2013. I visited several Chinese temples in Tra Cu county, as listed below.

-Ap Cay Cong, Xa Don Xuan: Trieu Ming Cung, Chon Minh Cung

-Ap Cho, Xa Ham Giang: Phuoc Thai Cung

-Ap Thot Not, Xa Tap Son: Binh An Cung

-Ap Cho, Xa Phuoc Hung: Phuoc Vo Mieu

     -Ap Giong Dinh, Xa Dai An: Dinh Minh Huong

     -Ap Me Rach B, Xa Dai An: Phuoc Thang Cung

     -Ap Cho, Xa Dai An: Bao An Mieu.

In the following chapter, I describe three Chinese temples in Dai An village. I focus on Dinh Minh Huong in Chapter 3 and examine the temples’ states up to the present through people’s narratives and the examination of a stone plate. A further examination of the name is also described. In Chapter 4, two annual events—Le Quan Cong (24/6 in the lunar calendar) and Le Vu Lan (16/7 in the lunar calendar)—held at the temple in 2013 are described in detail. The conclusion discusses a former report of the temple and the role of the temple in the village is described. It also mentions the function of the three Chinese temples in Dai An village and their mutual relationships, and examines the future study.

2    Three Chinese Temples in Dai An village

Tra Cu county is located 33 kilometers to the southwest of central Tra Vinh. Hau River, with its rich water, flows through the west of the county.

Dai An village is situated in the southern part of the central town in Tra Cu county. The distance from the center of Dai An village to the central town in Tra Cu county is roughly eight kilometers. This area comprises flat land and sand dunes. A number of bamboo groves are established in the western and southern areas of Dai An village. Therefore, wicker craft is a popular bamboo product for panniers, i.e., baskets used for carrying rice. There are craft villages in Giong Dinh hamlet in Dai An village (Phan 2012).

There are three Chinese temples in Dai An village. These are thought to have originated from the Fujian (Phuc Kien) Chinese who settled in the Mekong Delta a long time ago.

2.1 Phuoc Thang Cung

Phuoc Thang Cung is located in Me Rach B hamlet in Dai An village, Tra Cu county. The building faces the canal that  flows into the Hau River.

Compared with the two other temples—Bao An Mieu and Dinh Minh Huong—in Dai An village, the land and buildings in Phuoc Thang Cung are large in scale and the temple organization is significantly larger than that of the other two temples.

In the temple building, there are three statues positioned in the central part of the main altar: Bao Sanh Dai De in the center, Quang Trach Ton Vuong on the right, and Phuoc Doc Chanh Than on the left. The right side of the altar has Tam Binh To Su. The left side of the altar has Ngu Vi Chi Than.

There are six stone plates with Chinese inscriptions on both sides of the main door at the entrance to the building. Of these five stone plates, one was made in 1900, two were made in 1911, one was made in 1914, and the last was made in 1920.

The stone plate made in 1914 celebrates the memory of Tham Quy Dong, who contributed two pieces land to the temple, one in the south and the other outside Dau Du village. According to a cadastral registers study of the Nguyen Dynasty, the present Tra Cu county was previously called Ngai Hoa in Tuan Ngai prefecture from 1832. Dai An village present called Dai Du village in Ngai Hoa then (Nguyen 1994: 170-171).

The other stone plates record the names and the sums each person contributed to renovate the buildings. It is clear from this list that there were many active collaborators at the temple at the beginning of the 20th century. Because the same names come up repeatedly in the lines on the stone inscriptions, it shows that wealthy, powerful people were supporting this temple.

The temple was established around 1860 by Lam Huu Quang (pseudonym), who was the keeper of the temple and of Fujian origin. He did not understand Chinese, but there is a name of an ancestor on the 1912 stone plate.

Most members of this temple are the descendants of Chinese from Fujian who settled in Dai An village. Seventeen people in the management committee organize and maintain the building and land and run the regular festivals.

There are 17 annual events and religious ceremonies performed at the temple. Lu Van Hiep (pseudonym), who is a member of the management committee, explained that the most magnificent events at the temple were Le Hoi Nguyen Tieu (15/1 in the lunar calendar) and Le Trung Cuu (29/8–9/9 in the lunar calendar). He seemed to get on well with the other members and told me that “Le dung co den,” which is the night festival of Le Hoi Nguyen Tieu, is the one of the most famous festivals in Tra Vinh province. Members of the temple parade carry a portable shrine of Bao Sanh Dai De and carry large lanterns with members from Bao An Mieu and Dinh Minh Huong. Many worshippers from other prefectures as well as from Tra Vinh province come to Le Trung Cuu at the end of August. They worship over two or three days while staying in the temple.

2.2       Bao An Mieu

Bao An Mieu is located in Cho hamlet in Dai An village, which is near Dai An Market along the main street R.914.

The temple building faces the road. There is also a back entrance in the west side of the building on the road side and the main entrance is on the east side of the building. The inside of the building is divided into east and west, and the altars of the gods are placed by each place. Huyen Doc Thanh (pseudonym), who has a close relationship with Bao An Mieu, explained that “A canal passes across the garden in front of this temple. Because this canal was bigger before than now, we would carry the baggage in and out through the garden in front of this temple. But a new road has been built on the west side recently, so the back of the building has also been repaired.”

The temple was established about 100 years ago. The building has been renovated four times since 1950 because of damage from the war against the French, the impact of typhoons, and the erection of unwanted ornamentation.

In the main hall on the east side of the building, Phuoc Doc Chinh Than is positioned in the central part of the main altar. On the right side of the altar is Then Hau Thanh Mau and on the left side is Hiep Thien Dai De. In the west side of the building, there is a hall behind the main hall and Diem Quan Dai De is positioned in the center. There is a tablet of Ta Ban on the right and one of Huu Ban on the left. A red banner , on which the temple name Phuoc Thang Cung is embroidered, is hung on the left side of the hall.

According to Huyen Doc Thanh, the people who usually gather in this temple are families of Fujian origin. There are 50– 60 Fujian families and 30–40 Chaozhou (Trieu Chau) families. Five or six persons on the management committee maintain the temple and arrange the annual events. The annual events are Via Ong (13/5 in the lunar calendar) and Tam Nguon (15/1, 15/7, and 15/10 in the lunar calendar), with Via Ong being the more active event.

As mentioned above, Huyen Doc Thanh has had a close relationship with Bao An Mieu for a long time. His life shows the typical way of living of a local ethnic Chinese in Dai An village.

He lives in the house in front of the temple. He has long been engaged in the cottage industry of tailoring at Dai An village, but because of his age, he has stopped work and is now selling a few clothes for children at his home. He said, “Because my two sons have migrated to the United States, I will move to the United States while I am still healthy.” His sons in the United States contributed to the temple to repair the pedestal part of the altars and their names are now on the new altar pedestals. He also has a close relation with Phuoc Thang Cung. At the biggest festival in Dai An village, Le Hoi Nguyen Tieu, he recites the ritual prayer at the beginning of the ceremony, often wearing traditional clothes.

2.3      Dinh Minh Huong

Dinh Minh Huong is located in Giong Ding hamlet in Dai An village. It is on the byway from the main street R.914 near to a forest. Giong Ding hamlet, where a significant Khmer population lives, is famous for its bamboo wicker craft.

Dinh Minh Huong has the appearance of a new temple that has recently been built because of recent renovations to the main building. Repairs on the temple started in 2004. When the main building was renovated, then a Buddhist temple, Hung An Tu was newly began to build on the east side of the temple. During construction of the Buddhist temple, a garden in front of the temple was also established and now contains many statues. There is an old clinic in the space between this temple and the Buddhist temple. The clinic is built of concrete and bricks.

The clinic, Phong Thuoc Nam Phuoc Thien, provides acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment based on traditional Vietnamese medicine. One nun, Truong Thi Hoang Mai (pseudonym), treats the neighborhood free of charge at the clinic.

The year of establishment is unknown, but 1909 is engraved on the stone plate in front of the main gate of the temple, from which it is clear that the temple was there at the beginning of the 20th century.

In the main hall, Quan Thanh De Quan Phuoc is positioned in the central part of the main altar. On the right side of the altar is Then Hau Thanh Mau and on the left side is Phuoc Doc Chinh Than.

The annual events at the temple are Le Hoi Nguyen Tieu (15/1 in the lunar calendar), Le Ky Niem Ngay Lap Chua (13/5 in the lunar calendar), and Le Quan Thanh De Quan (24/6 in the lunar calendar). Le Quan Than De Quan is attractive not only to people around the temple but also to the ethnic Chinese in Dai An village. During this religious ceremony, Diep Thanh Lenh (pseudonym) dresses up in the special costume of Quan Cong and parades around the temple in a portable temple.

Diep Thanh Lenh said, “ Although we know this temple originated from Fujian, China, the current members are Fujian, Chaozhou, Khmer, and Kinh, because many Khmer live in Dai An village, especially around this temple at Giong Dinh hamlet.” At present, 8–10 persons belong to the management committee at this temple.

3    The Story of Dinh Minh Huong

3.1 Establishment by narrative and the stone plate

This section discusses the establishment of Dinh Minh Huong through the consideration of a stone plate, and considers the relationship with the name “Minh Huong.”

Minh Huong has some significant meanings. For example, the Minh Huong were descendants of the Ming Dynasty Army (China, 1368–1644) who emigrated from the southern part of China at the end of the 18th century. The general population is now a mixed-blood community as a result of the intermarriage between Chinese immigrants and the Kinh and Khmer. The children of Chinese immigrants born in Vietnam also include a community of Minh Huong. Under the Nguyen regime, they took a family register in Vietnam and collectively lived in Minh Huong village. After the 19th century, some of them moved to the coastal back swamp and inland to seek a job and their own lands (Fujiwara 1986: 274-273).

There were many Minh Hong in Tra Vinh province in 1901. In MONOGRAPHIE DE LA PROVINCE DE TRA-VINH 1903, the population of Ming Huong in Tra Vinh was half the population of Chinese in 1903. From a historical point of view, many Minh Huong lived in the Mekong Delta.

Even though there were many Minh Huong in Tra Vinh province, it cannot be concluded that Dinh Minh Huong in Dai An village is a Minh Huong temple.

In 2013, one vice president on the management committee in Phuc Minh Cung stated that Minh Huong meant Fujian people. Diep Thanh Lenh of Dinh Minh Huong said that in the beginning, the Fujian Chinese built the temple using bamboo trees and banana leaves. However, some informants of Phuc Thang Cung and Dinh Minh Huong explained that Dinh Minh Huong is the oldest Chinese Temple in Xa Dai An, so the traditions cited verbally are unclear.

While this temple was left ruined for a long time, people forgot the temple and the people who gathered there. Unless the narratives of the old members are told, the stories regarding this temple are just fables. There is not enough hard evidence as to whether Dinh Minh Huong in Dai An village was established by Minh Huong.

It is clear that the temple has existed longer than the 1909 stone plate in front of Ding Minh Huong (Table1).

When renovation started in 2004, one stone plate was found at the back of the building, which now stands in front of the new building. Since the stone plate did not preserve inscriptions for a long time, the Chinese inscriptions have deteriorated and are illegible.

Some information about Dinh Minh Huong in 1909 became clear by deciphering the legible inscription on the stone plate, which showed positions (official titles), people, and the amount of money they contributed. These Chinese inscriptions signify that Ding Minh Huong existed in Dai Du village, which was the old name for Dai An village, and 60 members of Dinh Minh Huong contributed totally 301 yuan in 1909. Because the purpose of the contribution is not stated, it is unknown whether this temple was founded or renovated in 1909.

The stone plate was inscribed using peculiar notation. The name of the contributor is normally written by the price order on a stone plate, but the inscriptions on this plate appear to have recorded the names according to the status of the members of the temple.

Moreover, this stone plate with a knotted rope is very characteristic. Although the number used to record the donation is usually the alternative Chinese character used for numbers, the number recorded on the stone plate in Dinh Minh Huong used letters from the knotted rope. In cases of international trade and/or small business with the parson using different languages, the knotted rope is used to indicate or record the quantity and communication is carried out through the tying of the rope. This special characteristic was also used at international trading ports in Southeast Asia where Europeans, Asians, and natives engaged in extensive business. It is clear that the people who lived around the Dinh Minh Huong temple were accustomed to using the knotted rope because it was a pluralistic culture with a variety of languages.

The content recorded on the stone plate is also characteristic. There are few names that can be distinguished clearly and there is also the name of a Vietnamese lady. Interestingly, the parson’s name was made up of two characters. Two character names were used as trade names and were sometimes seen as a Chinese name, so it is unclear what the two characters recorded on the stone plate mean.

The names of the official recorded titles are also distinctive. The official titles are recorded on the top line of the stone plate. The names of the official titles are president, general manager of a division, and village mayor. The village chief is also recorded on a second line. For example, the official titles of the Minh Huong Xa of Vinh Long prefecture in 1869 were different from these title names (Nguyen 2000: 500-512). The official titles of the Minh Huong Xa in Ho Chi Minh in 1902 were also different from these, according to historical records (Hoi Minh Huong Gia Thanh 1951: 37). Of course, the official titles of the Minh Huong organization do vary depending on the area, but the official titles at this temple are important as it is not clear as to the role and responsibility each title took.

To read the stone plate, significant data is required. The people gathering at Dinh Minh in 1909 possibly included many Khmers and Kinh, who were greater in number than the Chinese. However, the inscription using Chinese-style Chinese characters is unique in what would have been a culturally pluralistic society. These Chinese scripts show important sources of information about the history of not only one temple but of Diane village.

3.2 Renovation of Dinh Minh Huong

Dinh Minh Huong began to receive worshippers and visitors after the latest renovation. Three persons were connected with this renovation.

A nun, Truong Thi Hoang Mai (pseudonym) of the Chao Zhou Chinese but born in Vinh Long province, was the instigator for the renovation and revival of Dinh Ming Huong.

She came to this temple from a temple in Vinh Long in 1990. Dinh Ming Huong was a small, dilapidated temple in the bush land at that time. After she arrived, she began to prepare to rebuild Dinh Minh Huong and reopened her acupuncture clinic in Phong Thuoc Nam Phuoc Thien. She was the owner of a rice field in Kien Giang province and, having obtained funds from the sale of rice harvested in her field, she started the temple renovations in 2004.

While renovation was continuing, she also began to establish a new Buddhist temple, Hung An Tu, on the east side of Dinh Minh Huong. There were four nuns in Hung An Tu in 2013 and they helped Truong Thi Hoang Mai put on the religious activities in Hung An Tu.

Truong Thi Hoang Mai usually stays in Phong Thuoc Nam Phuoc Thien, and receives worshippers and visitors at Dinh Minh Huong and Hung An Tu. She is also a member of the management committee. The rice and cash obtained from the harvest of her rice field are donated and assigned to activities in the temple for the annual Dinh Minh Huong events.

Diep Thanh Lenh (pseudonym) is a third generation Fujian Chinese from Dai An village. He has a horticultural business at his home. At festivals, he rides a sacred portable temple wearing the costume of Quan Cong, Le Hoi Nguyen Tieu, and Le Quan Thanh De Quan. The way in which he became involved in such activities is as follows. He got a message in a dream at midnight on June 23, 2007, which is the anniversary of Quan Cong. He told me:

It was at midnight on June 23, 2007. While I was dreaming, I wandered aimlessly outside. When I awoke from the dream suddenly, I was standing in front of Dinh Minh Huong. I was 49 years old then, and I had not been to this temple until that night. I realized clearly that Quan Cong possessed me and wished to use my body. Then, when I noticed a nun standing in front of Dinh Minh Huong, I understood I had to contribute to the people around this area through this temple. (22 August, 2013.)

According to his narrative, this impressive event indicated a Quan Cong revelation: his mission was to save people with illness and problems.

He is involved in voluntary activities as vice chairman of the management committee at Dinh Ming Huong. He treats and advises people about their troubles in the voice of Quan Cong. It is difficult for many people to come to the temple as they live in remote areas and are unable to walk if they are ill, so he gives them advice on the telephone.

Kha Van Tho (pseudonym) is a Fujian Chinese born in Dai An village. He graduated from Chinese elementary school in Ho Chi Minh City, so can read and write in Chinese.

When he lost his job in Ho Chi Minh City in 2008, he returned to his home village. He came to Dinh Minh Huong one day and decided he needed to do some religious training at the temple during its renovation. He started to decorate ornaments on the temple pillars, gates, and a pair of boards with Chinese characters. Even in the garden in front of the temple, he made statues and gates by himself. The expenses for his painting and decorating were covered by contributions to the temple for his benevolence.

While Truong Thi Hoang Mai and Diep Thanh Lenh can understand only a few Chinese characters, Kha Van Tho’s reading and writing ability helped during the reconstruction of the temple because calligraphy and notes with Chinese characters on the pillars and wooden boards are essential to a Chinese temple.

In the above, I have illuminated the lives of the three people involved in the renovation of Dinh Minh Huong. These three people have been supporting the temple and the people religiously, materially, and mentally from 1990 up to the present day. Those contributions and the accompanying human efforts have assisted in the renovation of the temple. It seems that the present Dinh Minh Huong became alive with people as the plural elements overlapped.

4. The annual events at Dinh Minh Huong

There have been recent significant activities at the temple. I got the opportunity to observe Le Quan Thanh De Quan (24/6 in the lunar calendar) and Le Vu Lan August (16/7 in the lunar calendar). In this chapter, two annual events are described in detail, to demonstrate the activities at the temple. I will then clarify the functions and role of the temple.

4.1 Le Quan Thanh De Quan

The worship of Guan Yu (Quan Cong) is familiar not only to the ethnic Chinese but also to other people in Vietnam. Guan Yu has been enshrined as a god of war and a good god, who represents friendship, loyalty, and valor. Faith in the doctrine has gained in popularity.

On 24 June  2013, many local residents visited this religious ceremony, and it was also a chance for members of the Phuoc Thang Cung and the Phuoc Thang Cung to come together.

People who worship at the temple have to enter through the front of the main entrance. When they have made a contribution to the temple and registered their name and address at the reception desk in front of the main entrance, they receive an invitation to the festive table. Then the parson took a seat of the food for the festival. It is possible to receive an invitation regardless of contribution amount. Twelve tables are prepared in the dining area behind the main building. The meal on the day is provided by caterers and the females in the neighborhood prepare the tableware and do the cleaning.

Although many neighborhood residents worship there, the main visitors are members of the management committees from Phuoc Thang Cung and Phuoc Thang Cung. Six tents in front of the temple are occupied by about 20 members of these two temples, and they enjoy a pleasant talk under the tents. It appears that there is an unwritten understanding that members of other temples visit each other at ceremonies and festival.

When there are events and ceremonies, it is a good opportunity for people to talk directly about their issues. In the days of Le Quan Thanh De Quan, Diep Thanh Lenh was busy meeting people who had problems. When a Khmer mother and daughter came to talk about their personal troubles to him, he took them to a vacant tent and listened carefully to their story. At the time, he looked like an earnest counselor. He sometimes nodded, sometimes held his head with his hand and politely advised them. Mother and daughter listened to his talk seriously, and went back home with a smile. The time spent on this consultation was about 10 minutes.

Many people ask him and/or Quan Cong for help. These people sometimes live in remote areas and want to talk to him by telephone. At those times, he speaks either Chinese or Vietnamese. He explains over the telephone that he was sent the power on behalf of Quan Cong.

A member of the Phuoc Thang Cung management committee, Ha Van Phuong (pseudonym), said that Diep Thanh Lenh had special powers that were invisible and inexpressible. Another member of Phuoc Thang Cung explained that Diep’s mysterious power is out of his hands. There are other narratives about his body and face and that he is an incarnation or embodiment of Quan Cong because he is a tall, solid, sturdy and red-faced man like Quan Cong. Diep Thanh Lenh commented on this mysterious power:

Sometimes, I awake around 3 o’clock in the early morning, and somebody makes me write something at the same time. Then I am absorbed in the writing of mysterious shapes and marks, countless circles and crosses, and waves. Finally, the piece of paper is filled with those marks.The marks sometimes show the universe. At that time, this place is shrouded in silence. I have not heard anything in such a very quiet place. No one can interfere with me. However, if someone speaks to me, I can answer immediately using another soul. Both the body and the soul are also maintained in calm. (July 31 2013  )

His story has received the favor of the people and some people are in awe of his actions. Lu Van Hiep of Phuoc Thang Cung told me that it was an amazing thing because he rides a portable temple as Quan Cong in Le Dung Co Den. He said that he would be scared of being possessed, but Diep Thanh Lenh could do it.

The religious ceremony, Le Quan Thanh De Quan, involves people from the other Chinese temples as well as neighborhood residents. This ceremony connects Dinh Ming Huong with the ethnic Chinese and all the other people who live around the temple in Dai An village. The folk worship of Quan Cong seems to be attractive to people. The religious activity around Quan Cong at Dinh Minh Huong temple provides reliable support for many people in Dai An village.

4.2 Le Vu Lan

Le Vu Lan on 16 July  2013 was crowded with many local residents. Both young and old had been waiting to receive contributions from Dinh Minh Huong and Hung An Tu.

Le Vun Lan is an original Buddhist ceremony held on July 15 (in the lunar calendar), when worshippers are offered to their ancestors. Dinh Minh Huong and Hung An Tu perform in a joint ceremony. In recent years, a distribution method for the offerings at Le Vu Lan has been designed and managed.

One month before Le Vu Lan, contributors donate rice and dry noodles to the temple as offerings for the festival. The collected offerings are stored in the main building in Dinh Minh Hung until the day of Le Vu Lan. Truong Thi Hoang Mai also contributed rice to the temple for Le Vu Lan. The Dinh Minh Huong management committee counts and registers all the contributed rice.

To effectively issue the rice contributions to the people in need, the management committee hands out tickets in advance that feature the seal of the temple and a serial number.

The distribution list for the rice is decided at the People Committee’s office. The family name and the address of the recipient are given to Dinh Minh Huong from the People Committee’s office in advance. When members of the temple management committee have completed the preparation of the tickets, the tickets are sent to the residents—which means that the recipients of the rice are determined prior to Le Vu Lan. Even though the recipients have already been decided, many people still gather in the temple at Le Vu Lan.

At Le Vu Lan, three tables are set up as the altar on the ground in front of the temple. Offerings of flowers, fruit, rice, dishes, dry noodles, and paper money are placed on this temporary altar. Truong Thi Hoang Mai gives a sutra to this altar first. The sutras at the festival, intoned by a priest, are strictly performed. However, behind the intonation of the sutra, there are many people who want to receive an offering. After the sutras are finished, the offerings at the desk disappear. This situation seems to be a completely pleasant ritual.

When the worship by Truong Thi Hoang Mai was over, distribution of the rice began. The issuing of the rice caused great tumult. The front door was closed, otherwise people would flock to the temple gate as the rice was distributed. Members called to the people who had a ticket to line up in numerical order at the west gate of the main hall. But no one lined up. People just kept waiting at the entrance. Before handing out the rice in numerical order, the nun called to them, “Take the rice after worshiping God!” People thought that rice was more important than God, so they did not look at God at this time as the rice-offering ceremony seemed more important than God at Le Vu Lan.

After the rice distribution, Le Vu Lan began the celebrations at Hung An. After opening the main door, 50 lunch dishes were arranged in front of the main door. The four nuns beside the dishes raised the sutra. As soon as the nuns had completed the worship, the audience surrounded the food, which was taken away in a matter of seconds. Many snack foods had been thrown toward the audience at the same time. In front of the temple, there was a sea of enthusiastic people.

By observing Le Vu Lan, the role of mutual assistance played by the temple was revealed. The activities at Dinh Minh Huong and Huna An Tu were organized by the management committee. However, because the Le Vu Lan festival has grown in scale, the management committee had been cooperating with the People’s Committee to issue offerings to families in need more efficiently. This temple is maintaining its status as an important aid organization for the local people.

5. Conclusion

This report presented the current situation of three Chinese temples, but especially Dinh Minh Huong in Dai An village in Tra Cu county, Tra Vinh province.

This review was based on a 2012/2013 research report on the three Chinese temples in Dai An village. The features of the present situation and the function and the role of Dinh Minh Huong in Dai An village were then discussed.

There are three Chinese temples in Dai An village. Some members of the management committee in each temple stated that a certain number of worshippers in the temples are of Fujian origin. Although the Chaozhou are the majority ethnic Chinese in Tra Vinh prefecture, there are still many Fujian people in this village.

Each temple has progressed well, and they each conduct events and ceremonies in Dai An village. The members of each temple can also freely attend events at other temples, so the relationship between the temples is deep and based on mutual exchange. In addition, these three temples’ religious facilities in the village are open not only to ethnic Chinese but also to neighboring people like the Khmer and the Kinh.

This report focused on the Dinh Minh Huong temple in particular. This temple had had the most remarkable change of the three Chinese temples in Dai An village. The history of the temple is not clear as there is no material information or documents about Dinh Minh Huong, only some information inscribed in a Chinese inscription on a stone plate dated 1909. The style of the format and content are characteristic but also show the cultural pluralism that existed at Dinh Minh Huong. It also clearly shows that Dinh Minh Huong members kept to Chinese customs when inscribing the stone plate, even in this multicultural situation.

There is a point of view that this temple was established by people of “Minh Huong” origin. However, this belief is based only on the name of Dinh Minh Huong;  there is no firm evidence that can identify the temple with theMinh Huong. Although people who knew about the Minh Huong were in Tra Vinh city and Dai An village at that time, there were no parsons who identified as Minh Huong origin in Dinh Minh Huong.

Even if the information on the stone plate is considered, there are no similar official titles between Dinh Minh Huong and other groups of Minh Huong. Official titles, like village organizations, are different depending on the region, so there is a possibility that official titles also vary by region. There are many varying stories about the Minh Huong, and there is a small possibility that the form Dinh Minh Huong is related to Minh Huong. While historical materials do not exist, memories and legends related to the ancestors are important. Consideration of this issue requires further research.

Since the start of the renovation of the temple in 2004, the size and appearance of the main building and the management methods have changed significantly. After the renovation of Dinh Minh Huong and the establishment of Hung An Tu, temple’s charm has increased and it has attracted the attention of the local residents in Dinh Minh Huong.

Three parsons were involved in the major changes at the temple. One is the nun who came to this temple to spread Buddhism; the second, a man who treats worshippers and neighboring residents with the power of Quan Cong; and the third is a man who can read and write Chinese characters. Although the contributions and cooperation of many people are indispensable for the temple renovation, these three people could be said to be behind the prosperity of today’s temple as each of them has played an important role in the completion of the current temple and of attracting the faith of many local residents.

The annual events held at the temple have become very popular in recent years. The religious ceremony, Le Quan Thanh De Quan, establishes bonds with neighborhood residents and members of the other Chinese temples. The activities related to Quan Cong are performed by a member of the management committee, who attracts many faithful worshippers. The report of Le Vu Lan showed that this festival at the temple focused on community service. Dinh Minh Huong temple also engages in religious activities at the Buddhist temple Hung An Tu, which also serves the community.

As I noted above, this report on the three Chinese temples in Dai An village showed that the temples’ activities are tinged with regional features. Further, by exploring the status of the temples, the social situation surrounding each temple emerged. The facts revealed in this paper are related to the recent changes in Vietnamese society. There has been a extending of Buddhist faith, the recovery of folk (Taoism) religions, and a widening in socioeconomic disparities behind.

Indeed, the presence of Chinese temples and the ethnic Chinese of Dai An village is remarkable because of the vital roles they play. However, it is also essential to focus on the Khmer and the Kinh because the village has a remarkable cultural mix. It is also important to record people’s memories of family, religion, and economic activity in Dai An village. Such a study would assist in understanding the dynamics of this multiethnic village society.

Note of Term

  • Xa : village
  • Ap : hamlet
  • Dinh, Mieu, Chua, Cung : Temple

( Table1)



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Dinh Minh Huong  明郷庭

Dai An village                      大安村

Trieu Ming cung  朝明宮

Chon Minh Cung             真明宮

Phuoc Thai Cung             福泰宮

Binh An Cung                     平安宮

Phuoc Vo Mieu                    福武廟

Dinh Minh Huong  明郷庭

Phuoc Thang Cung            福勝宮

Bao An Mieu                        保安廟

Gia Dinh Thanh Thong Chi         嘉定城通志

Bao Sanh Dai De     保生大帝

Quang Trach Ton Vuong   廣澤尊王

Phuoc Doc Chanh(Chinh) Than  福徳正神

Tam Binh To Su      三祖師位

Ngu Vi Chi Than    五方神位

Tham Quy Dong      沈貴東

Dau Du village                    大餘村

Thien Hau Thanh Mau     天后聖母

Hiep Thien Dai De  協天大帝

Diem Quan Dai De  炎光大帝

Ta Ban                                   左班

Huu Ban                   右班

Hung An Tu             興安寺

Phong Thuoc Nam Phuoc Thien 福善南薬房