Morning in Hanoi in July. I get up early to try to get some work done, to beat the heat, but then the power goes out. Apparently there is such a high demand for electricity right now that the government has resorted to rationing. And this morning it’s my neighborhood’s turn to do without power.
So rather than stay at home and sweat, I decide to go to Mê Linh to visit the temple [dedicated] to the Trưng sisters that the friend that I had bia hơi with last night told me about.
After stopping to ask for directions a couple of times, we finally make it to the temple, and it is impressive! There is a huge gate that you pass through to get to the temple complex, and then the temple itself is surrounded by an impressive stone wall.
Within the temple grounds is a huge stone inscription with information about the Trưng sisters’ rebellion against the Han Dynasty, and then inside the temple itself are beautiful placards which talk about how the power of the Trưng sisters will endure through the centuries.
Equally impressive was a fine gentleman who works at the temple. He told me about the history of the temple, and I asked him about the issue of the Trưng sisters as rain deities.
He confirmed what I said, and agreed that it was true that during the time of the Lý Dynasty, Lý Anh Tông had prayed to the Trưng sisters and then had this temple constructed in order to thank them.
Indeed, within the temple itself, according to this gentleman, are designs and decorations in the artwork that date from the time of the Lý Dynasty.
Ok, so I guess it’s time for a confession. I tend to think I’m a pretty smart person, but once in a while, and it’s really just once in a very long while, I do something a little bit stupid. Today I went to the temple. It was beautiful. I met the nice gentleman there who was just starting to tell me things that I wanted to know, and right at that point, the battery on my camera died because I forgot to recharge it yesterday. Uhhhggg!!!!!!!!!
Actually, before the battery on my camera ran out, I was able to get in one question to this fine gentleman. I asked him if people today still prayed for rain, and his answer was a little bit vague.
At first he said “yes,” but then he proceeded to tell me the history of the temple: how Lý Anh Tông had it built during the time of the Lý Dynasty in order to thank the Trưng sisters for bringing rain, how it was renovated during the time of the Nguyễn Dynasty, and that it was renovated yet again in 2004.
But did those renovations mean that people at those later times still believed that the Trưng sisters could bring rain?
Can they bring rain?
I decided to take a chance that they still could. I went into the main temple, and I prayed to the two sisters that they bring rain to Hanoi.
I have no idea if my prayers are going to be answered, but it’s the best I can do at the moment.
Now all we can do is just sit back and wait, and hopefully the Trưng sisters will deliver.