Women Break Tradition on Buddhist New Year

January 28, 2001

Source: The Times-Picayune

On January 28, 2001, The Times-Picayune reported on the first women at the Chua Bo De Vietnamese Buddhist Fellowship temple in Algiers, Louisiana, "to perform the elaborate dragon dance, an ancient tradition that whisks away bad spirits and brings good luck to all in the new year...The dragons are usually played by young men from the Gia Dinh Phat Tu youth association." This year three young women in the association asked to participate in the dance. "Many of the elders of the temple...were opposed at first to the idea of women playing the traditional male role...On Tuesday, however, there was no sign of disapproval from the temple's congregation. About 200 people who gathered to celebrate Giao Thua, the hour of midnight that begins Tet, the weeks-long New Year's celebration...Dung Pham Nguyen, chairman of the temple, said the dragon dance is traditionally performed at Tet and the Buddhist Mid-Autumn Festival, and it's not unusual today for women in Vietnam to take part in the dances."