Source: The Times-Picayune
On February 10, 2000, The Times-Picayune reported that the Bo De Buddhist Temple in Algiers, Louisiana rang in Tet Nguyen Dan, the Vietnamese New Year, at midnight on Friday, February 4th. The Vietnamese New Year, which this year falls on February 5th, is on the first new moon after the winter solstice. This year is the Year of the Dragon according to both the Vietnamese and Chinese calendars. Thong Pham, chairman of the board of Bo De Temple, stated: "In Vietnam we celebrate for seven days...This is the big ceremony in our country based on tradition." Pham continued to say that the New Year is a time when, "everybody stops work and goes to relatives and wishes them good luck." The celebration was squelched in the early years of the Communist government in South Vietnam, but it is now celebrated in Vietnam and in the United States. Members of the temple's Buddhist Scouts, a group of boys and girls who study and perpetuate Buddhist religion and customs, took turns performing the Dragon Dance. Benjamin Vo, a 13-year-old student at Livaudais Junior High School in Terrytown, LA who is also a member of the Buddhist Scouts, spoke about the New Year festivities: "It teaches us our Buddhist teachings, our Vietnamese heritage...It is always good to know where we came from."