A priest blesses motorbikes on Jan. 24 at Yen Bai Church in Vietnam's northern-central Yen Bai province. (Photo: UCA News)
On the third day of the Lunar New Year in Vietnam, hundreds of Catholics wanting safe roads had their vehicles blessed following a Mass.
Around 1,000 faithful attended the special Mass and prayed for safe travel at Yen Bai Church in the Southeast Asian nation's northern-central Yen Bai province on Jan. 24.
Father Michael Nguyen Tien Quang, who was born in Yen Bai, presided over the blessing ceremony of 500 cars and many motorbikes.
The 50-year-old priest warned the faithful, and urged: “Fully comply with traffic regulations when traveling on the road, wear helmets, and do not consume alcohol like beer and overtake carelessly.”
“In doing so, we can protect our lives and prevent fatal accidents,” Father Quang said.
The National Traffic Safety Committee, which is collaborating with the World Bank to improve road safety data systems in the country, reported there were 133 road traffic accidents (RTAs), killing 77 people and injuring 96 others during the Lunar New Year (Tet) festival in 2021. In most cases, accidents took place due to drunken driving and drug abuse.
Tết, short for Tết Nguyên Đán, is the Vietnamese New Year celebration. This year, the festival started on Jan. 22 and ended on Jan. 24. However, schools and many offices throughout the country are closed from Jan. 18 to Jan. 29.
Vietnam this year is observing the Year of the Cat, while East Asian nations like Korea and China which also celebrate the Lunar New Year, are observing the Year of the Rabbit.
Mary Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet, who had her family’s motorbikes blessed, said her family attended the Mass on the third day of the Lunar New Year to pray for good business and work. Tuyet is in the business of selling meat.
The 50-year-old mother of two thanked God for saving her family from a road accident last year. Her husband suffered a head injury after crashing his car into some trees. In another case, her son’s motorbike was stolen in the capital Hanoi.
"Today, we come here to thank God for that and to pray for our business and safety in the New Year,” Tuyet said.
Mary Nguyen Thi Oanh, a former soldier who now trades in building materials, said she prayed to God for good health in the New Year.