Temple of Literature (Vietnamese: Văn Miếu) in Hanoi, northern Vietnam
Hanoi 12th-graders are crowding here to find spiritual elements in the hope of increasing their chances at the upcoming national college admission exams
At this time of the year, thousands of students jostled Tuesday, July 2 for a place at the Temple of Literature, thought to be Vietnam’s first national university, built in the 11th century, and thus a ‘sacred’ place for praying for luck in exams, to perform observances which they believe will bring them good luck during the exams.
Ceremonies ranging from burning paper votive offerings and lighting incense to touching the stone turtle heads, donating small change, and buying calligraphy papers were carefully observed.
Vietnamese high school students will sit for the admission exams, administered by the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), either on July 4 and 5 or July 9 and 10, depending on their majors.
Every year local applicants must pass the MoET tests on a set of three subjects chosen from math, physics, chemistry, literature, history, geography, biology, and foreign languages to be admitted to the college of their choice.
The Temple of Literature is a former center of learning in Hanoi. It is a temple of Confucius and includes the "Imperial Academy" (Quốc Tử Giám, 國子監), Vietnam's first national university. The temple was built in 1070 at the time of King Lý Nhân Tông. It is one of several temples in Vietnam which are dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars. The Temple is located to the south of Thang Long Citadel. The various pavilions, halls, statues and stelae of doctors are places where offering ceremonies, study sessions and the strict exams of the Dai Viet took place. The temple is featured on the back of the 100,000 Vietnamese đồng banknote. Just before the Vietnamese New Year celebration Tết, calligraphists will assemble outside the temple and write wishes in Han-Nom. The art works are given as gifts or are used as home decorations for special occasions.
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