Têt Tao Quân, the cult of the Geniuses of the Home in Vietnam
- on Feb 3, 2021       By: BN
The 23rd of the 12th month in the lunar calendar is celebrated as Tet Tao Quan (the feast of the Geniuses of the Home) takes place, so that he, the Genius, leaves the house to go and report to the Master of the sky. He fills him in on all the facts and gestures of the family whose roof he protected during the year. On the 30th of the same month, the last day of the year, he returns to the home.
A legendary tale
There was once a man named Trong Cao and a woman named Thi Nhi. Married for a long time, they had no children and often argued. One day, the husband hit his wife. Realising that life together was no longer possible, the woman left her home.
She walked for a long time when a man came by, having just ploughed his fields. Fortunately, this man, Phan Lang, was not yet married. He opened the door for Thi Nhi. The household lived in an atmosphere of happiness.
One evening, while waiting for her husband to return, she saw a beggar. She recognised her first husband and gave him food and drink. But Trong Cao, too tired, lay down on the floor, unable to move. So Thi Nhi, wanting to avoid a meeting between her two husbands, had the beggar hide under a stack of straw.
Unfortunately Phan Lang, before going to bed, had the idea to set fire to the grindstone, the ashes of which he wanted to spread the next day to fatten his fields. Thi Nhi arrived too late to avoid this misfortune and rushed into the flames. Her second husband, distraught with grief at the loss of his wife, set off in pursuit.
Admiring the bond of affection between these three people, the Vietnamese made them the Geniuses who personify the Home, ông Công ông Táo in Vietnamese. The three people are embodied in the three pottery points which constitute the tripod supporting the pot.
The cult of geniuses Ong Cong ong Tao
The Vietnamese assume that on the 23rd of the twelfth moon, the genie “Ong Tao Quan” leaves the kitchen and ascends to heaven to report to the Jade Emperor for the declaration of the good and bad deeds of the family.
Also, to make the judgment of Ông Công Ông Táo favourable, the Vietnamese never fail to offer him copious offerings.
Usually, there are three live fish, flowers, fruit, gold and silver papers, and an incense stick that is lit.
The family members confess the faults committed during the year and beg Ong Tao to have them forgiven by the Lord of Heaven. Then they will release the fish to the river so that they can be used as a mount for the Genie to go to heaven.
Ong Tao Quan remains in Heaven for six days and then descends to take his place in the house at midnight on the 30th of the last month of the year. His return is an opportunity for the family to rejoice, which thus shows him how happy they are to be together for a new year under the protection of the Gods.