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November 26, 2017

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The Hanoi Man Who Answers Goddesses


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.


Read the full article on VnExpress.

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