Hanoi, Vietnam – Nguyen Duy Cuong, the proprietor of a constructing supplies firm in Ho Chi Minh, can hardly wait to ask his fortuneteller to have a look at his enterprise plans for the 12 months of Tiger, which begins on February 1.
Cuong’s fortuneteller, who has suggested him for the previous 12 years, has been particularly busy through the pandemic attributable to a rising consumer base drawn by the comfort of companies provided on-line.
Like many Vietnamese when discussing a favoured fortuneteller, spirit medium or geomancer, Cuong refers to his information as “Grasp”.
“Within the subsequent few weeks, Grasp’s schedule shall be very hectic, so I’ve to e book him nicely prematurely,” Cuong, who was born in 1955, instructed Al Jazeera.
Cuong will depend on his fortuneteller’s recommendation for all the pieces from the association of the furnishings in his workplace and hiring staff, to the timing of his enterprise journeys through the upcoming lunar 12 months.
“I’m doing fairly nicely this 12 months regardless of the pandemic. It appears that evidently my heartfelt gratitude to the spirits paid off,” stated Cuong, who usually pays about 1 million Vietnamese dong ($45) for a two-hour session. “I’ve so much to thank my Grasp for.”
Regardless of counting on superstitions, Cuong is insistent he can inform an actual deal fortuneteller aside from fraudsters and opportunists.
“I belief science and my very own instinct,” he stated. “For inexplicable issues in life, I need to flip to Grasp. I’m non secular, however not superstitious”.
In Vietnam, many enterprise homeowners, whether or not huge or small, or non-public or state-owned, seek the advice of fortunetellers for steering on company selections.
Whereas solely about 14 p.c of the inhabitants in formally Communist Vietnam follow a proper faith, normally Catholicism or Buddhism, spirituality permeates each nook and cranny of the society.
For a lot of Vietnamese, consulting a fortuneteller is just not solely a solution to achieve peace of thoughts, but additionally categorical respect for supernatural forces. In Vietnamese tradition, life and demise are decided by destiny, whereas prosperity and privileges depend on heaven. Success requires not solely expertise and onerous work, however supernaturally-granted luck generally known as loc. To domesticate such luck, Vietnamese perform rituals to specific their gratitude to the heavens and their ancestors.
Cuong’s enterprise, like many in Vietnam, comprises an altar to the Chinese language God of Wealth and the God of Land, at which his assistant – who was partly employed on the premise of his Chinese language zodiac signal and look – prepares fruit choices on the first and fifteenth day of the lunar month.
Grasp Dung, a 28-year-old horoscopist in Hanoi, instructed Al Jazeera that her purchasers most frequently sought readings about their well being or enterprise plans.
“The larger and riskier their funding is, the extra regularly purchasers search fortunetelling,” stated Dung, who requested to be referred to solely by her enterprise title.
Relying on familiarity together with her purchasers, Dung gives completely different packages starting from $9 to $36 per one-hour session.
Dung stated that whereas fortune tellers primarily based their recommendation on the horoscope, her method centered on sensible problem-solving.
“I at all times inform my purchasers that destiny may be modified by their improved ethical conduct, and my messages typically sound optimistic, in any other case they are going to at all times really feel dangerous and by no means come again,” Dung stated.
In formally secular Vietnam, a transparent distinction is made between formal religions and ritualistic practices comparable to palm studying and ancestral worship.
Following financial liberalisation within the Nineteen Eighties, the Communist authorities relaxed its enforcement of war-time anti-superstition legal guidelines, beneath which many people practices have been deemed backward and inimical to the social order.
In 2006, the US State Division eliminated Vietnam from the listing of “nations of specific concern” with respect to spiritual freedom.
Nonetheless, the nation’s Spiritual Affairs Committee continues to observe spiritual organisations and discourage the unfold of “heterodox superstitions”.
Practitioners of divination, fortunetelling, spirit summoning and different types of mysticism may be fined for profiting off of their actions, though the legislation is imprecise concerning the parameters of what’s and isn’t allowed.
The authorized gray space hasn’t stopped Communist Celebration members from availing of fortunetelling companies themselves.
Amongst 15,101 Celebration members disciplined between 2016 and 2020, 7,692 have been accused of involvement in playing, reckless consuming, superstition, or supporting or collaborating in an unlawful spiritual group.
‘Age and destiny’
For companies, taking note of supernatural issues can even merely be a matter of making certain issues run extra easily.
Tran Thanh Hoa, a younger freelance designer in Da Nang, at all times brings up “non secular” elements together with his purchasers following an expertise through which a consumer modified her thoughts concerning the color of a emblem after consulting with a fortuneteller.
The consumer was instructed blue wouldn’t be appropriate together with her 12 months of beginning and “destiny”. After some forwards and backwards, Hoa and his consumer opted for purple as a greater match.
“Since then, I’ve at all times requested my purchasers in the event that they care about their emblem’s compatibility with their age and destiny”, Hoa instructed Al Jazeera. “I don’t suppose it’s superstition. It’s a legitimate concern as a result of logos inform folks what manufacturers actually stand for.”