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Moon festival sheds light on traditions

Nov. 3, 2006

By GRACE MAALOUF
Reporter

Food, fashion and dancing dragons will come together this weekend when the Vietnamese Student Association hosts its 14th annual Autumn Moon Festival.

Baylor students will have the chance to experience the event in honor of a traditional harvest holiday that began in China.

"Autumn moon is the month of the year that the moon is fullest and brightest," said Hallen Dao, a Dallas freshman and Vietnamese Student Association member.

"Traditionally, according to Chinese culture, it's when the fairies come from the heavens and bless everybody with beauty and health."

James Vu, a New Orleans junior and president of the organization, said the full moon on the celebration day traditionally signifies the abundance of the harvest.

Dao said the month, which usually falls on October in the Western calendar, is a time for families in China and Vietnam to come together, have dinners and enjoy community festivals at a church or temple.

At the festival on campus, association members will put on a fashion show of traditional Vietnamese attire, such as dresses called ao dais, said Vy Truong, a Houston junior and officer in the association.

Others will perform a cultural skit, and a professional martial arts troupe from Dallas will perform a kung fu show and present the festival's signature event, the dragon dance.

Vu said the dance is the highlight of the night and probably the part students will enjoy most.

"(The dancers) start out in Barfield Drawing Room and take the dance outside," Vu said.

Guests then light candles inside small paper lanterns and hold them on the edge of a stick while watching the dragon dance, which is accompanied by drums, he said.

"It's something people don't see every day," Vu said.

Dao said the lantern lighting is part of the Vietnamese tradition of the festivals.

"Around a certain time at night, right when it starts to get dark, everyone lights a lantern," Dao said.

Truong said everyone attending the event will receive a small lantern to keep at the conclusion of the evening,

The festival will also showcase a wide range of Vietnamese food, including egg rolls, fried rice, a salad called goi and dessert, Truong said.

Vu said parents of organization members cook and donate the food, and many of them will travel to Waco from Dallas and Houston for the festival.

"We do (the festival) for our families, too," Vu said.

Although Baylor students will learn about Vietnamese culture, Vu said he also hopes it's a chance for them to see that people are ultimately all the same.

"We're not very different from anybody else," Vu said.

The festival will begin 7 p.m. Saturday in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. Tickets are on sale today in the Bill Daniel Student Center for $10 and will be $13 at the door.