Friday, September 16, 2011

ASIA: VIETNAM: FESTIVAL TO HELP POOR CHILDREN

ASIA NEWS REPORT: by Thanh Thuy
Têt-Trung-Thu festival which marks the rice harvest is held every year in Vietnam and in China. Children enjoy special 'moon cakes' and traditional music. Local Catholic communities organise events involving less fortunate children. In Ho Chi Minh City shared festivities involve Catholics and non Catholics.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Catholics in Vietnam in many different parishes celebrate the national Mid-Autumn feast or Moon Feast with traditional music, games and cultural events, especially involving less fortunate children. This year's events were based on three topics 'Moon of Love', ' Moon of Peace', ' Moon of Friendship' to express, through the work of priests and Sisters, Christ's special love for children. Activities were planned to ensure that even the less fortunate children enjoyed the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Têt-Trung-Thu – Mid-Autumn feast – an annual national celebration in Vietnam and China falls on the 15 day of the eighth month in the Lunar Calendar. It celebrates the annual rice harvest and, in the Gregorian calendar used in the West, falls between mid September and early October. This year it was September 12 which was also a full moon. Every year children enjoy eating typical 'Moon Cakes' made of rice and taking part in traditional singing and dancing.

According to the statistics of NGOs, in Vietnam today over 50,000 children are living in the difficult circumstances. This is why the local Catholic community plans festivities for less fortunate children, orphans, children who are blind or HIV positive. In Ho Chi Minh City hundreds of children, from Catholic and non Catholic families, gathered together for the Festival at the parish church of Our Lady Queen of Peace. In the parish area there are Catholics, Christians of other denominations, Buddhists and persons with no religion and all live peacefully in harmony. Local participants at the festivities this year said “no one could tell the difference”, as all the children played together. Just before the festival one group of children said how they look forward to it because “we all come together and play and sing and dance with the priests and our friends”. The local priests say for them it is an opportunity to confirm efforts to live faith in Jesus Christ.

Again in what was formerly Saigon, Têt-Trung-Thu coincided with celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of a local Catholic charity organisation Thiên Phước. More than 1,200 young people, Catholics and non, joined in the celebrations. Hải Phòng diocese, in northern Vietnam about 100 km from Hanoi, which has invested much energy in children's catechism classes, marked the Mid Autumn Festival involving less fortunate children in social activities and special games organised with the help of diocesan Caritas office.

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