We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Kindness Across Cultures: Stories to Prove We Care. Each post highlights present-day and folktale examples.
Vietnam is abundant with water from the waterfalls to the rice patties and jungles. Water is symbolic of the values of humanity and harmony cherished by the people here. Here we have this picture of several Vietnamese men taken by Quang Nguyen Vinh or “Quangpraha”.
Present-Day Valance & Valor
The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation searches out Vietnamese children in crisis and helps them survive another day from seemingly small things to the life or death situations. Advocates are assigned to the children such as social workers, psychologists, teachers and lawyers. Each of these people boost the children’s education and well-being. This venture started in 2003 when a child asked an adult how to learn English so as to work with foreign people wanting their shoes shined. This expanded to children who had no adults to represent them when taken to the police station. More can be learned here: https://www.bluedragon.org/.
Past Valance & Valor (Folktale)
The Vietnamese folktale on how the Mai flower came to be is found in several places including:
- Picture book entitled “Vietnamese Children’s Favorite Stories” and within the story “The Legend of the Mai Flower” retold by Tran Thi Minh Phuoc, published by Tuttle Publishing
- Web page with “The Story of the ‘Mai’ Flower“
Here is a summary:
A girl named Mai was known for always wearing yellow around the village. She was kind and took care of the kitchen god within their home. One day, the kitchen god wished for a golden carp so he could go to the meeting in heaven. Mai made sure to place a fish on the altar for the kitchen god. Mai also joined her father on hunts even as young as 14 and helped kill monsters terrorizing the land. She became as adept as her father. Several years later, the village people told of a snake monster that was eating their livestock. The father agreed to hunt for it, and Mai insisted she help. Her father was not as strong as he used to be. The two of them came to the snake monster’s cave and fought for a long time. In a move to save her father, the two of them killed the snake monster but not before Mai was strangled by its tail. Due to her kindness, the kitchen god begged the Jade Emperor of Heaven to bring Mai to life to be with her parents. The Jade Emperor could not fulfill such a request though offered a small kindness that for nine days around the Lunar New Year, Mai could visit her parents. When the parents both passed away, Mai transformed into a tree that bloomed yellow flower called “Mai” for nine days around the Lunar New Year. Now people remember her and the ultimate kindness she bestowed to save her father. The Mai flower adorns many homes during this time of year.
Interesting Notes on Kindness
- Mai was known throughout the village as being kind and honored all the same including lesser deities such as the kitchen god
- Mai watched out for her father and insisted to go after the snake monster knowing it was dangerous
- Mai’s kindness and ultimate sacrifice impressed the kitchen god and the Jade Emperor that even the laws of life and death were rewritten to honor her
- Mai was allowed to return through the mercy of the Jade Emperor until both parents died as a way to keep the family together
- People decorate their homes in the Mai flower, which symbolize great love and devotion
What stories of kindness do you know associated with Vietnam? Anywhere in the world – past or present? Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.
While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).
We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.)