Friday, 26 February 2016

Hà Nội Report | The Đồng Thầy

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
It was a packed temple today... and as I arrived somewhat later than I expected, the choice spots were taken by audience members who refused to budge to accommodate a foreign photographer....and understandably so because the officiating medium was Hung Hoan Tien, a đồng thầy, a master-teacher in his craft with a long list of followers and students.

With patience and some gentle insistence, I managed to insert myself in a place with a reasonably unobstructed view of Mr Hung, and able to photograph the ceremony despite the video strobes and the dangling lamps.

Mr. Hung eventually singled me out for a special "blessed" gift of a currency note rolled around a lit cigarette, and it was then the audience realized I was not a stray tourist who accidentally passed by the temple but a genuine Hầu Đồng cognoscenti, deserving of nods of appreciation and acknowledgement. 

It was my first visit to this temple on the other side of the Red River. It's a famous and well known temple, and the narrow alleys which lead to it are lined with small eateries and religious trinkets.

I am planning a lengthy interview session with Mr. Hung in the coming week, and will include it along with others in my forthcoming photo book Hầu Đồng: The Spirit Mediums of Việt Nam.