Sisters from the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Hung Hoa held dang hoa, or ceremonial offerings of flowers to Mother Mary, at parishes in the Hung Hoa Diocese in October to foster Marian devotion among local people.
The sisters help hundreds of Catholic women, including ethnic Hmong, who perform traditional dances and offer beautiful flowers to Mother Mary during the month of the rosary.
They teach them to dance to hymns and use incense, candles, fans, rosaries, and colorful flowers to show their devotion to Mary.
Dance troupes dressed in traditional costumes perform at churches on weekend evenings. Their performances attract hundreds of attendees, who join processions carrying Marian statues around churches for 45 minutes to one hour.
Female dancers have practice sessions on weekday evenings and pay for their costumes as a way to make sacrifices for Mother Mary.
Hmong villagers from parishes in remote areas pick wildflowers to offer to Mother Mary since they do not have money to buy flowers from local markets. They wear rosaries around their necks, believing Mother Mary brings them peace and good luck.
Lovers of the Holy Cross of Hung Hoa Sr. Teresa Nguyen Thi Xuan said about 200 sisters from her congregation are sent to teach dances to people during the month at parishes, sub parishes and mission stations in the Hung Hoa Diocese. One or two sisters work at each place.
Xuan, 40, said the congregation with 500 nuns does not have enough staff to serve Vietnam’s largest diocese. It covers part of Hanoi City and nine provinces, which are home to 264,000 Catholics, including 20,000 Hmong people at 150 parishes and some 500 sub-parishes and mission stations.
Xuan, from the Vinh Quang Convent with six nuns based in the Van Chan district of the mountainous province of Yen Bai, works at Sung Do Parish, serving 1,000 Hmong villagers.
Two other sisters, Mary Dao Thi Lan, 35, and Catherine Nguyen Thi Hai, 38, from Vinh Quang Convent, hold a ceremonial dance at the parishes of Vinh Quang and Vang Cai, respectively. Vinh Quang Parish has 1,700 members, including Hmong villagers, and Vang Cai Parish serves some 1,000 Catholics, one-third of them from the Tay ethnic people.
Xuan said the nuns also offer flowers to Mother Mary in May, regarded as the month of flowers in Vietnam, dedicating it to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Some nuns also help troupes hold dang hoa ceremonies at Yen Bai Parish.
Dang hoa ceremonies in October have become increasingly popular at local parishes and subparishes since 2017, when they marked the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fátima, Portugal.
October is designated by the Catholic Church as the month of the rosary because the church celebrates the Marian advocation of “Our Lady of the Rosary” on Oct. 7.