This picture taken on March 25, 2014 shows a "Len Dong" dancer (C) performing as attendees sitting arround at a local temple in Hanoi. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH NAM
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Hoa, who is not a professional Len Dong shaman and only undertakes the rituals when the spirits move her, asked friends who had watched the entire performance.Len Dong, which uses musical invocations to lure spirits to possess mediums and communicate with others, has been performed in Vietnam for centuries.Practitioners and attendees -- people can donate to help cover the costs of a Len Dong performance without having to directly participate -- usually turn to the ancient ritual to ease stress or hoping for help from the spirits with romantic or professional problems. For decades, Len Dong was restricted by French colonial and Vietnamese communist leaders, but the tradition is enjoying a flurry of popularity since restrictions were relaxed a decade or so ago -- and some say it is a useful vent for stressed citizens.Even now, practicing Len Dong can carry a government fine of around $250 which aims to prevent private for-profit practitioners rather than genuine Len Dong devotees like Hoa.The trouble is, it is hard for people to tell the difference between genuine Len Dong practitioners and con artists.
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