For a smooth ride to heaven, grab a carp

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It is said that the Kitchen Gods will ascend to heaven by carp on the 23rd day of lunar December to report to the Jade Emperor on the family's activities in the past year. Photo credit: VnExpress It is said that the Kitchen Gods will ascend to heaven by carp on the 23rd day of lunar December to report to the Jade Emperor on the family's activities in the past year. Photo credit: VnExpress

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Red carp farmers in Thuy Tram Village in the northern province of Phu Tho are busier these days as they are catching the fish to sell to traders from across the north in preparation for a Lunar New Year Tet tradition.
On the 23rd day of the last month of the lunar year, each family will bid farewell to their Kitchen Gods with a ritual meal. 
Usually a large carp or three smaller ones are placed in a bowl of water. Locals believe the fish will carry the Kitchen Gods to heaven. After the ritual ends, the live fish are released into local ponds or rivers.
It is believed that the three Kitchen Gods will report on each family's activities in the past year and ask for heaven's blessings, before returning home on Lunar New Year's Eve. 

Nguyen Danh Quang (R) and his family catch red carps in their pond in Thuy Tram Village, Phu Tho Province.

Quang said it took his family six months to farm the carps. His family has harvested roughly 5,000 carps weighing 100 kilograms in total this year.

Another family in Thuy Tram Village catches carps.

Farmers say they don’t transport carps for sales immediately after harvesting. Instead, they put the fish into small ponds, pump in oxygen and refrain from feeding them for two days. “Transporting well-fed carps could make them tired or even kill them,” said Quang.

Roughly 470 of the 564 families in Thuy Tram Village are engaged in red carp farming.

Ha Cong Duc, a farmer and a trader, said he traded around three tons of carp fish this season.

A kilogram of red carps fetches VND80,000-100,000 (US$4-5) for these farmers.

Carps are placed into nylon bags with oxygen before being transported to other northern provinces and cities, including Hanoi.

A motorbike, two bags of carps, and an oxygen container. Ok, let’s go.

After the farewell ceremony for the Kitchen Gods, farmers in Thuy Tram Village will raise other kinds of fish until June when they begin to raise red carps again. Each family earns between VND10 million ($469) and VND20 million from red carp farming, they say.

The original Vietnamese story can be found here on VnExpress.
Photo credit: VnExpress

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