The 15-metre bamboo pole was carried by a group of men dressed as soldiers under the Nguyen Dynasty in a procession from the Hien Nhon Gate through the Thai Hoa Palace to arrive at the Ancestral Temple, where it was erected.
The erection of the Neu pole on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month marks the beginning of Tet. It coincides with the day when the Kitchen Gods are believed to ride carp fish to the Heaven to report on events from the past year.
During 143 years of reign (1802 – 1945), the Nguyen Dynasty held an annual ceremony to plant the Neu pole at the Imperial Citadel. The pole carries ritual items on its top, like a royal seal, a paper scroll and pen, which imply that the royal court stopped working during Tet.
The Neu pole is also believed to ward off ghosts and demons from entering the community during Tet. It would also direct ancestors seeking the path home for the Lunar New Year holiday. The custom is also practised in some Asian countries besides Vietnam.
It will be taken down on the seventh day of the first lunar month to mark the end of the Tet celebration.
Also on the day, the Hue Relics Preservation Centre held a Tet programme, which offers visitors a chance to listen to nha nhac (Hue royal court music), folk games, and watch a competition to make Chung cake (a cake made from glutinous rice traditionally dedicated to Tet).