Folklore in Asia has said that, when Heaven and Earth were newly formed, it was God that made the rain and wind. Not only this, but the river, the sea, and the creatures living in the water- all were created by God, who is the source of everything.
Eventually, God was so busy creating people and things that it stopped raining. Thus, God sent dragons off to Heaven, to fly through the air and spray water on the Earth to make it rain.
However, there were not enough dragons in the sky, and soon there was also not enough rain on Earth. God decided to establish a contest for other animals to become dragons and carry out this important task.
When this heavenly decree was sent down to the sea, King Thuy Qi, who oversaw all underwater life, announced the contest to all species that lived there. The contest had involved swimming against three very strong waves, and required an animal strong and talented enough to swim upstream.
One month passed, and many species of animals were eliminated, because no one could survive all three waves.
A perch fish (cá chép) was able to make it through the first wave, but it fell in the middle of the second.
Next, two shrimp came along and were able to jump over the first two waves. Their appearance was nearly transformed into that of a dragon, but at the height of the third wave, they became exhausted and fell back down.
Next, a carp entered the competition. This particular carp had precious pearls in its mouth, making it special but also rarely seen by the other sea creatures. However, it still tried to swim against the strong waves. The Wind God found it strange and came to see the carp’s attempt. The wind and clouds rushed in, the thunder rumbled and it rained heavily.
Finally, the carp surged forward, surpassed the three waves, and released its pearls over Vu Long Mon and turned into a dragon. As a water dragon, the former carp made it rain over the Earth, making the soil fertile, bringing vitality to all plants and animals alike.
After the carp’s victory, all the other common carp wanted to cross Vu Long Mon, pass through the gates, and become a dragon. The sacred dragons were majestic: they had a waving tail, a beard, horns that grow, with a radiant shape. But not all carp were as special as the one with the gem in its body; not all carp had the same qualities and abilities to overcome the difficulties of the strong waves.
However, because of the one successful and precious carp and its ability to swim upstream, it now represents courage, luck, success, and victory. Because people often consider the image of the dragon carp as a symbol of prosperity, it is promoted in schools and examinations. It is also as a symbol of fortune and luck in commerce.