How a privileged young Vietnamese man chose to abandon his education to pursue a rich, if controversial spiritual calling.
In the yard of Kiep Bac Temple, Long Nguyen's tall, slender 25-year-old frame sways in a large red cloak embroidered with dragons.
Behind him, the voices of four singers fill the 13th century sanctuary, a dusty hour's drive outside Hanoi.
As the invocations grow faster, the band wails on zithers, tom-toms, cymbals and flutes. Suddenly, Long claps his hands and tosses away his cloak, revealing a white princess’ dress and a silver turban tied in a bow.
The crowd cheers; Long smiles and dances coyly—weaving streaks of smoke in the air with four sticks of incense burning in his hands.
The middle-aged audience applauds.
In their eyes, Long is no longer himself but an incarnation of a deity—the Holy Dame of Bo Waterfall.
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