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This is the second largest Vietnamese festival of the year.

Offerings of food and gifts are made in homes and pagodas for the wandering souls of the forgotten dead.

In the late 19th century the Tamil immigrants from the French colonies of South India erected the Mariamman Temple in Saigon.

Like small ethnic groups anywhere in the world, the minority peoples of Vietnam continue to struggle against absorption into mainstream society.

Although the entire country lies in the tropics and subtropics, local conditions vary from frosty winter in the far northern hills to year-round, sub-equatorial warmth in the Mekong Delta. Average humidity is 80% and annual rainfall averages 1979mm.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the average annual temperature is 27o C. In 1997, Vietnam's population reached 76.5 million, making it the 13th populous country in the world.

A tiny and almost forgotten minority group are the Tamils, whose ancestors came from tiny French enclaves like Pondicherry and Karikal along the south coast of India.

Their small community in Ho Chi Minh City, now only a few thousand.

Eight-four percent of the population is ethnic-Vietnamese, 2% is ethnic-Chinese and the rest is made up of over 50 ethno-linguistic groups.

Evidences indicate that in Saigon (presently Ho Chi Minh City) the Indian population, mainly from South India was of a significant number in the past.

The largest metropolis is Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) followed by Hanoi (capital) Haiphong and Danang.

Vietnam has a remarkable diverse climate because of its wide range of latitudes and altitude.

Meager economic opportunities in the countryside have drawn many minority people to urban areas where they must adopt to the ways of the late 20th century. Since the early 1960s, the communist regime in Hanoi has endeavoured to integrate minority groups into the dominant Viet population.

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