South Vietnam's Lunar New Year Tet celebration on Saturday (3 February) was the most peaceful held for many years.
South Vietnam's Lunar New Year Tet celebration on Saturday (3 February) was the most peaceful held for many years. For the population of Saigon, their prayers had been answered, because they believed that 'The year of the buffalo would bring peace'.
Saigon's streets were packed with flower stalls selling the traditional chrysanthemums, sun flowers, and gold-flowered Mai trees. In the market, vendors stood protectively over sweet stalls. But business was only half what it was in previous years. Few people had the money to buy.
According to Saigon residents, it was not a happy New Year. Soldiers were confined to their barracks, roads into the capital were cut, and housewives had to cope with rising food prices.
In a normal year, everything closes down for three days over Tet. The first day is devoted to the family, the second to relatives and the third to friends. This year, newspapers closed, but Government offices were ordered to remain open.
At the Chua Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, the Head Bonzs (Priest) said the post-ceasefire fighting had brought unhappiness and instability to his country. He said everyone is hoping and praying for a genuine peace.