Bach Ma (White Horse) temple of Hanoi

Bach Ma Temple was located in Ha Khau Precinct, Tho Xuong District at the confluence of To Lich River and Red River (now No 76, Hang Buom Street, Hanoi). From Hoan Kiem Lake, follow Hang Dao, Hang Ngang Street, Hang Buom Street is in the right hand side.

Bach Ma Temple was built in honor of "Saint Long Do" alias "Quang Loi Bach Ma Dai vuong". Legend has it that after moving the capital to Thang Long, King Ly Thai To prayed Saint Long Do to support him in constructing a citadel. Afterwards, in the king’s dream, a white horse showed him how to construct a stable citadel. Saint Long Do was conferred as tutelary God of Thang ong (Thanh Hoang Quoc do Thang Long). The temple dedicated to Long Do was named Temple of Saint White Horse (Den Bach Ma).

It is believed that Bach Ma Temple was built in IX century and restored many times. It is one of four spiritual guardian gates protecting the Thang Long Citadel: Bach Ma Temple in the east, Voi Phuc Temple in the west, Kim Lien Temple in the south and Quan Thanh Temple in the north. In Bach Ma Temple, there is a horizontal board with four ancient Chinese characters meaning the main temple protects the east (Dong tran chinh tu). In 1939, people built a shrine dedicated to Confucius on the left of the temple and a square hall (phuong dinh).

Bach Ma Temple covers an area of 500 square meter. It is facing the southeast, combining of four halls; the front hall, the

square hall, the bowing hall and the rear house. In the temple, there are 15 stelae reading the history of the temple, ceremonial processions and renovations. The oldest stele dates back to 1687. At that time, the temple belonged to Ha Khau, Phung Thien, Tho Xuong District. In the Nguyen dynasty, two stelae were erected in 1820 under the reign of King Minh Mang and in 1848 under the reign of King Tu Due.

Bach Ma Temple is in a state of fair preservation with the artistic sculptural works. Renovations preserve features of the architecture of the Tran Dynasty.

Typical parallel sentences in the temple:

Traces of the horse supporting the country in the La Thanh Citadel construction would be eternally engraved

By the river, the miraculous spirit would protect Long Bien forever.

Under the Tran Dynasty, the Mongol aggressors invaded Thang Long citadel three times but the temple was safe from their ravage. On the way escorted the king back to Thang Long, the great tutor Tran Quang Khai composed poem:

Survive after three fire times

Stand firm in the fierce wind.

Growing up ceremony in Ninh Thuan

Before being accepted as mature members of their communities, Cham Ba Ni girls in Ninh Thuan perform special coming-of-age rites. Cham Ba Ni people reside in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan, coastal provinces in Vietnam. Between the ages of 9 and 15, Cham Ba Ni girls undergo the Karoh ceremony, one of the most important rituals of their lives. Girls usually perform the ceremony in groups of three.

The Karoh ceremony typically takes place over three days in March, August or October according to the Cham Ba Ni calendar. To host the ritual following the approval of the chief shaman, families select a venue and erect two ceremonial houses. A bigger house is used by the chief shaman and village officials. The girls get ready in the smaller house.

On the first day of the ritual, required offerings are carefully prepared. On the second day the family offers traditional cakes and holds a debut ceremony to inform the ancestors of the girl's coming-of-age. The official ceremony takes place on the last day. A female Shaman, usually an elderly Cham woman, and two other old women, help the girls to wear pành (a type ot traditional Champa clothing) and take a bath outdoors.

After completing the cleansing ritual, the girls are taken into the house to prepare for the ceremony. They wear makeup and jewelry, have their hair braided into a chignon and don traditional clothes including a yellow skirt and a red woven scarf. Their relatives have prepared the required offerings and ornaments for the ceremonial house. Three village officials sit and wait for the official rituals. The chief shaman assigns specific tasks to these officials. In this ceremony, a toddler will be present as a witness of the God Allah to testify that the girls have cut their hair to join the Ba Ni religion.

The chief shaman calls the girls in turn to enter the ceremonial house. After reading scriptures and performing some blessings, the chief shaman has the girls' hair cut. Their hair is cut twice, once in the middle of the forehead and then on both sides. The first haircut demonstrates the girl's gratitude to her parents and the second one denotes her homage to the God Allah. As the ceremony ends, the girls bow in turn to the officials, their parents, their ancestors and their relatives to express their respect. The chief shaman prays for good fortune. After the ceremony, families host a party for all of their relatives and friends to celebrate their children’s maturity. After this ceremony, the girls are free to fall in love and choose their own partners.

Westerners surprised at Vietnamese women's sun jackets

Taking great care of Vietnamese women’s skin makes an Italian photographer impressed

MONIA Lippi is an Italian photographer having a visit to Saigon early December 8. On arrival in Vietnam, Lippi was surprised at Vietnamese women’s sun protection clothing here. After that, she decided to make an album named "White Skin" to express women's obsession for white skin.

To shoot close-up pictures, Lippi stopped at the traffic lights as the red light comes. “Some places I’ve been standing for 120 seconds and I could feel the sweat is pouring down their face," she said. "I try to capture as much as possible, before they move”

While making the album, Lippi noticed: "Each person brings a different style on a motorcycle, but in general, they all are wearing the same outfits which are considered as Sun jackets to shield their skin from the sun and cover their entire head and neck, only leaving a narrow slit for their eyes”

"I am also regularly told warnings about not to be dark skin ... Then I realized that Vietnamese women always have a desire for their white skin which deeply dives into their mind. One day I went to the shop at the corner to pick up something but the only kind I could find was “White Mountain Vaseline”. It was hard to find something not belong to whitening products.”

Therefore, Lippi felt weird and surprised at the desire for pale skin which is opposite to Italian women who always love a tan.

Walking through the hustling traffic intersection, Lippi realized the fun in the sun jackets. "With old women and young girls, their clothes are very colorful," she described. "They covered as much the body as possible such as masks, elaborate shawls, sunglasses, gloves, long pants, socks and only leaving a narrow slit for their eyes ... “But after she figured out, she realized that Vietnam is not only a country revering the white skin. This is a very common custom in Southeast Asian countries, including Japan. She thinks the white skin indicates difference in social judgement

Although capturing photos under the blazing sunshine, Lippi feels very happy. "I often imagine how their faces behind masks and colorful clothes look like. Most of the people felt comfortable as I took photos and I could feel their smiles behind masks although I make sure they are exposing sun for hours “Lippi said laughing.

Oneday, I woke up early morning and I wandered around the island at Cat Ba area, I was feeling so peaceful and this seascape was so fantastic