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Vietnam Discovery
 Nha Lon - Cultural relic in Long Son Island

     Traveling along National Road 51 heading for the coastal city of Vung Tau, visitors can catch sight of an intersection on their right hand side laid eight kilometers from the greeting gate of the city.

     It is the entrance to the commune on Long Son Island where the complex of relic Nha Lon (large house) Long Son, the home of Ong Tran religion, is situated.
     Long Son Commune sits on Nua Mountain, located next to Ganh Rai Bay and to the south of Sac Forest. Nha Lon Long Son was created by a man nicknamed Tran, whose real name was Le Van Muu, a follower of An Giang-based Tu An Hieu Nghia religion. He come to the region and set up the house in the beginning of the 20th century.
     The house was built on an area of two hectares and includes a temple, a place to celebrate festivals with a school, a market, a Ghe Sam preserving house, and Ong Tran’s graveyard.
     Nha Lon is a place to worship great men of Taoism, Confucianism, Ong Tran and his relatives of the Le Family. Every year on the birthday of Ong Tran (Lunar February 20) and on Trung Cuu (double nine) day (Lunar September 9), Nha Lon Long Son organize a festival that attracts tens of thousands of people from the Mekong Delta and HCMC’s neighboring provinces and cities. People from the province of Tien Giang give a gift of 1,000 bushel of rice to the organizer of the festival and receive 18 tons of salt in return.
     The design of Nha Lon strictly follows traditional architecture with all wooden components and details. Though time has passed, Nha Lon keeps its original features. The Ong Lon religion is a mixture of many traditional religions without any prayer book, instruments, vegetarian rule or any superstitions, only the oral teachings passed from generations to generations remain.
     For those who cannot come to the place on those festive days, a visit on Lunar December 21 will bring them a surprise: they can see old men in traditional costumes write Chinese characters on scrolls. This traditional image can rarely be seen elsewhere in the country.
     Those followers of Ong Tran in Long Son still follow a basic habit of wearing black ba ba costume (kind of shirt used by South Vietnamese people), walking on bear feet and keeping their hair inside buns. They also follow a strict daily routine to cook and offer food to worship and clean in the temple. They consider Nha Lon their sacred common house to be preserved.
     The locals still preserve the traditional positive characters of honesty and hospitality of the Southern people, for they always invite visitors to Nha Lon for free meals. Those meals are used first to worship and are simple, but still delicious. Visitors also have a chance to taste other specialties at Long Son.
Source: SGT - Vietnamtourism

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