260-year-old Nam Ong communal house in Soc Trang

 Nam Ong communal house in Soc Trang Province is well-known for the hundreds of large incense cones suspended from its ceiling, bearing the nametags of devotees.

Nam Ong communal house on Vo Dinh Sam Street, Ward 8 in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang is revered by the local Chinese community.

It was built in 1760 as a small temple made of trees and leaves in honor of Guan Yu, an Eastern Han Dynasty general in China.

In time, the communal house was expanded to incorporate three spacious chambers and two small rooms, characterized by a fusion of Vietnamese and Chinese architecture.

The communal house honors legends spanning Chinese five dynasties. Through various ups and downs along with multiple restorations, all statues have withstood the test of time, heralding their great craftsmanship.

Outside stands a statue of a horse, symbolizing intelligence, strength, agility, and prosperity along with a carnival ochna tree.

On the 10th day of Lunar New Year, the faithful gather from early morning to hang large cones of incense from the ceiling, accompanied by their nametags.

Nametags include Chinese characters representing blessings, peace, and health.

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, those hesitant to visit the communal house to burn incense can ask us to do so for them,” said Ut, communal house manager.

“Hanging incense in the communal house is a local tradition. So from New Year's Eve, many people come to write their names on the red nametags, hoping for a prosperous new year and good health," said Chin, a local resident.

Nam Ong communal house has two colors of incense, hot pink and brown yellow. Each cone could burn for up to 15 days, lending them their 'half-month incense' tag.

Selling incense helps cover communal house maintenance costs.

Around 600 incense cones hang from the ceiling, creating an impressive scene when viewed from below.

The chamber at the back of the communal house is reserved for Vietnamese to worship and commemorate their deceased ancestors.

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