A Hanoi market for Kitchen Gods festival

Hang Ma street in Hanoi is famous for its votive object marketplace serving a range of spiritual ceremonies, including the Kitchen Gods Festival observed on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month.

The Kitchen Gods are considered the guardians of every household’s kitchen. The one female and two male gods are said to maintain a kitchen’s fire throughout the year.

It is believed that on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month every year the Kitchen Gods ride carps to Heaven and present a report on each household’s activities to the Jade Emperor.

To observe the ceremony, people buy and offer the Kitchen Gods objects such as clothes, hats, and boots, all made of paper, as well as a fresh carp.

After offering incense to the Gods, they burn the votive paper objects and release the carp into nearby rivers, hoping that the Gods will ride to Heaven and speak well of them before the Jade Emperor.

The ceremony is observed several days before the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival which falls on February 10 this year.

A Hanoi market for Kitchen Gods festival
Walking along Hang Ma Street these days, visitors feel lost in a sea of decorations for the Tet holiday.
The votive decorations are even hung on street signposts
The street is flooded with colourful decorations
Shop  owners are busy displaying goods …..
… Customers also hurry to choose their favourites.
Votive clothes for the Kitchen Gods are the most popular with customers
A votive clothes set costs from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of Vietnam Dong, depending on size
They are displayed on the pavement ….
: … or are hung on tree branches
: .. or are carried along the streets by vendors
Customers can buy paper-made carps
: … or paper-made snakes of various patterns
These sets of lucky pieces cost between VND10,000 and VND200,000 each
Street police are mobilized to maintain security and order