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Phu Le communal house
The old Communal House of Phu Le lies 40 kilometers by road from the Ben Tre Township toward the province's seaside district. It is seen as a place of spiritual inspiration and worship by the local people.
The Communal House is a house of 10 apartments, in which the 6 main apartments are built-in to the house roof, the rest 4 apartments are specially used as guest rooms and the kitchen.
In 1945, under the war threats, many worshiping and decorative objects were brought into hide by local people following a call by the management council. All brass instruments and tools were intended to be used in the "brass week" for making weaponry for used in the guerrilla war. Unfortunately, the intention was thwarted when the French colonial troops poured into the commune and occupied the Communal House. So the materials were also brought into hide.
After the war, only worshiping objects were returned to the Communal House and have been laid there until now. In 1972, the Communal House was again repaired due to war damages.
In 1950,the Communal House was again totally rebuilt on the same old ground base, with contributions from the commune's people. The new Communal House was built with concrete walls, new roof tiling, and more new concrete columns. The main receptive hall was rebuilt with corrugated roof in 1967.
Phu Le is of high value thanks to not only the antique factor, but also its valuable artistic carving and engraving works and many other old-time decoratives made by craftmen from the Central Vietnam. Today, one of its halls was degraded and has never been able to paired due to lack of funding.
According to local elderly, the Communal House was used as a place of worship to the "Tutelary God". Worshiping ceremonies are held twice a year, on the 18th and 19th days of the Third Lunar month, and on the 9th and 10th days of the Eleventh Lunar month. The Third Lunar month’s ceremony is called the Ky Yen (Pray for Peace), at which people pray to the God to bless for peace and good life. The Eleventh month's ceremony is called the Cau Bong (Pray for Good Crops), which is asking for a good crop season to come.
Besides, there are other worshiping events at the Communal House on the main Mid-month occasions of the First, Seventh, the Tenth, and on July 27 every year. On such ocasions, local people, and some from other parts of the province, gather to the Communal House pray for whatever they wish to.
The ceremonies at the Communal House are also occasions for the whole community to come and share their life stories, to exchange information on various topics, from the very niches of their village life to even worldwide events. And, there is the indispensable nights of hat boi (a form of triditional drama).Though its original design and features have been largely damaged by the two wars in the past, and degraded through time, the Phu Le Communal House remains to be a symbol of the Vietnamese finest traditional morality: the loyalty of the people, the way of social living behaviour among the neighbourhoods.
So, visiting the Phu Le Communal House, tourists not only have chances to look at an artistic structure, but they also are able to sink themselves in the ancient and tranquil air of the House itself.