Tet is reflective of Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage: Thai Ambassador

WVR - “Tet is not just a festival for Vietnamese, but also a festival for everyone. This festival connects Vietnam to the world and vice-versa”, Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura shared with the World&Vietnam Report.
Thailand's Ambassador: Tet is reflective of Viet Nam’s rich cultural heritage
The Vietnam Town in Thailand's Udon Thani Province. (Source: TTXVN)

How do you feel about the atmosphere of Vietnamese Tet holiday? What do you usually do these days?

Tet is a season of love and bonding. It is the time when Vietnamese people who live far from home reunites with their families and friends. In Thailand, a similar event echoing Tet celebration is the Thai New Year or “Songkran” where the atmosphere is cheerful, lively, vibrant and full of happiness of family reunion.

After I arrived Vietnam in April 2021, my first Tet was in 2022. It was a very memorable experience and I felt in love with the celebration, which was full of beautiful decoration and joyous vibes around the country. More importantly, it is the very first period of Mua Xuan (spring) where one gets to enjoy the glimpse of warm weather.

Thailand's Ambassador: Tet is reflective of Viet Nam’s rich cultural heritage
Thai Ambassador to Vietnam Nikorndej Balankura. (Photo: QT)

Every year, the Embassy organizes a Tet party for both Thais and Vietnamese staff members to celebrate the season. During Tet, most of my Vietnamese colleagues returns to their hometown with their families and love ones.

It had become our tradition at the Embassy that all embassy staffs, me included, will wear Ao dai and post it on our social media, holding highest “likes” among other posts.

What are your most impressions about Vietnamese Tet? What messages do you perceive from that?

This season allows the reunion of several generations, ranging from Ong & Ba (grandpa & grandma), Bo & Me (Father & Mother), con trai & con gai (son & daughter) to chau trai & chau gai (grand son & grand daughter). During Tet, I am most impressed with Vietnam’s values towards the family institution. They cherish and deeply respect their elders, seniors and ancestors. It is a good opportunity to convey well wishes filled with “positive energy” from one generation to another. This surely does promote the strength of Vietnamese society, rooting from the family institution.

Tet is a long holiday. It is a good opportunity for Vietnamese families to get together in their hometown and overseas. I would like to take this opportunity to extend our invitation to the Vietnamese communities to celebrate Tet in Thailand and bring their family as well.

If well planned, the cost of air tickets from Vietnamese cities to Thailand could be cheaper than some domestic flights. Besides, last year Vietnam Town was established in December 2023 during the visit of H.E. Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue, President of National Assembly, to Udon Thani Province in the northeast of Thailand. This is the first and only Vietnam town in the world, showing a strong connection between the two countries as well as friendship and bonds between locals and Thai people of Vietnam origin.

Vietnam Town is not the only area of cultural exchanges between the two countries, but also an international attraction to entice international tourists to experience Thai and Vietnamese cultural assimilation. This is the pride that symbolizes strong historical ties between our two countries.

In this connection, I would like to encourage more visitors including Vietnamese tourists to visit this landmark.

From your own experiences, what are your comments on the beauty of traditional Vietnamese culture and the Vietnamese efforts in preserving culture?

This season is reflective of Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage.

Tet is a good opportunity for members of family and relatives gathering, allowing a new generation to observe and absorb the Vietnamese culture through their elders. For instance, I have witnessed many Vietnamese schools teaching their students how to make Banh chung during Tet. I was impressed to learn that Vietnamese people in Udon Thani and Nongkhai provinces in Thailand also make Banh chung as well.

Wishing for the upcoming new year, what are your wishes for Vietnam and for the relationship between the two countries?

The year 2024 will mark a new chapter of bilateral relations between Thailand and Vietnam. Both sides will be working closely to pave ways for a possible elevation of our relations to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. With the aforementioned elevation, both sides expect to see more frequent exchanges of high-level visits, including the official visit of Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son to Thailand and the official visit of Prime Minister of Thailand to Vietnam. In this connection, it is my conviction that relations between Thailand and Vietnam will grow from strength to strength.

Both sides will continue to deepen political and diplomatic relations, increase two-way trade, investment and intensify our efforts in strengthening subregional and regional frameworks, for the benefits of our peoples and beyond. Furthermore, I wish to see Thailand and Vietnam leverage their presence and relevance in global stage in response to heightened geopolitical tension and weakening global economy.

Recently, the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution, officially designating the Lunar New Year as a UN floating holiday in its calendar of conferences and meetings from 2024, what do you think about that and efforts of Thailand and Vietnam for this decision?

The proposal to include the festival as an optional annual holiday was adopted unanimously at the 78th UNGA. This important decision reflects the recognition of Vietnamese and other Asian culture, showing strong multilateralism cultural diversity.

Vesak day is another example of Asian efforts in the United Nations arena. It is one of the most sacred days to millions of Buddhists around the world. The UNGA adopted a resolution in 1999 recognizing the Vesak day to acknowledge the contribution of Buddhism.

This is similar to the latest UN resolution on Lunar New Year recognizing this significant event internationally. It is one of the most important celebration for millions of Asian in several countries, including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia and China.

On the occasion of Tet, a year of the Dragon, which Thai people believes is an auspicious year. I, along with my colleagues and staff members of the Royal Thai Embassy, would like to send our best wishes, may you and your family enjoy good health, joy and prosperity.

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