by Le Yanna, Tran Van Doanh
HANOI, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Dozens of Vietnamese people queued in front of a shop selling gold here on a cool morning, patiently waiting for their turn to enter and buy the precious metal that had been formed into roosters, Buddhas, rings, bullion and sheets.
Standing in the queue on Tran Nhan Tong Street, a young bank clerk wearing the uniform of the local Techcombank, told Xinhua that she arrived at 6:00 a.m. before the shop had opened and said that even at that earlier hour a number of other customers were already queuing.
The crowd became bigger and bigger, and the queue became longer and longer, she said.
One of the shop's staff, a young man decked out in a yellow and red costume and a bonnet often worn by officials in feudal times, instructed customers to come in one by one.
The man was not wearing fancy dress, he just wanted to create an image of the God of Wealth to impress and lure customers to the shop.
Monday, Feb. 6, is the 10th of the first month of 2017, the year of rooster according to the lunar calendar. The 10th day of every lunar new year is regarded as the Day of God of Wealth in Vietnam.
On this day, people often go to gold shops and buy gold bullion, bars or sheets, gold jewelry, or figurines of the 12 zodiac animals with the strong belief that doing so will bring them prosperity and good luck for the whole year.
"This year is the year of rooster, so I am going to buy a gold figurine of a rooster. I hope that I will have a flock of gold chicken by the end of this year," the Techcombank clerk said joyfully while standing in the long queue which had started to cause traffic congestion on the street.
Nguyen Thi Dan, a retired garment worker from the rural district of Thanh Tri, Hanoi, told Xinhua that she was going to buy a gold ring. "Wearing it or not doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that we have to buy gold on the Day of God of Wealth," she said.
Many Vietnamese people, including those who queued on the street, believe in a folk tale about the God of Wealth, or God of Prosperity.
According to the tale, the God of Wealth who lives in heaven, one day falls to earth after getting drunk. He goes to people's houses to ask for food and drink and later the houses' owners become rich. On the 10th day of the lunar new year, he flies back to the heaven. To memorize the God of Wealth, people choose this day to worship him and pray for luck and prosperity.
Such a practice in Vietnam is believed to originate from China. Caishen is the Chinese god of prosperity worshipped in Chinese folk religion and Taoism. He has been depicted with many historical figures and embodies forms, including Zhao Gongming, Fan Li and Bi Gan.
Caishen is often depicted riding a black tiger and holding a golden rod. He may also be depicted with an iron tool capable of turning stone and iron into gold.
"The custom of buying gold on the Day of God of Wealth has a long history in Vietnam and first became popular in the Chinese-Vietnamese community in Ho Chi Minh City, and then in Hanoi," Wei Yonglu, director of the Vietnam-China Flavoring Company, told Xinhua.
Wei, who has been in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for numerous occasions, said that many years ago, only traders bought gold on the Day of God of Wealth, but in recent years, the buyers come from all walks of life, such as homemakers, office clerks, public servants, reporters, or retirees.
"In Hanoi, on the Day of God of Wealth, many parts of Cau Giay and Tran Nhan Tong streets, where a number of gold shops are located, face traffic congestion because armies of buyers rush there," said the Chinese man.
To meet an increasingly bigger demand for gold on the Day of God of Wealth, gold and jewelry companies in Vietnam, especially Bao Tin Minh Chau, Phu Quy, SJC, PNJ and DOJI, have launched different gold products.
Tran Thi Cuc, deputy general director of Ho Chi Minh City-based PNJ, said the company has launched on the market nearly 150,000 gold products on the Day of God of Wealth, up 50,000 products compared with last year's occasion.
PNJ's customers often buy small gold bars or rings weighing one or two tenths of a tael. A tael, the most common measurement of the weight of gold in Vietnam, equals 37.5 grams.
According to many gold traders, this year, gold in the forms of the God of Wealth and roosters have sold well, and their prices are not too high like in previous years.
Gold bars of moderate weight have also attracted many buyers. On Monday morning in Hanoi, DOJI sold gold bars at prices of 37.5 million Vietnamese dong (around 1,675 U.S. dollars) per tael.
The prices of a tael of gold in Vietnam are about 4 million Vietnamese dong (179 U.S. dollars) higher than those in the world market.
"Buying gold on the Day of God of Wealth should be moderate, and made with your own money, not loans, to wish for luck and avoid risks when the metal's price drops," advised local economist Doan Huu Tue.