FESTIVALS HUNG KINGS' FESTIVALS – PHU THO
Hung Kings' Festival or Hung Kings death anniversary is a Vietnamese festival held annually from the 8th to the 11th of the third lunar month, in which the 10th day is the main festival day. The festival takes place in Hung Kings' Temple, Phu Tho province - the old ancient city of Van Lang nation. This is a national festival with the aim of remember and paying tribute to the contribution of Hung Kings, who were the traditional founders of the nation. The ceremony is celebrated solemnly with national rites. The offerings are "three living beings" (one pig, one goat and one ox), square sticky rice cakes, crushed sticky rice pudding and multicolored sticky rice while musical instrument is the old bronze drum. The notables in the host village, followed by local people and visitors, enter Hung Temple and practice traditional customs.
The festival includes such activities as the contest of sedan-chair, Xoan singing, Ca Tru singing and other folk games. Hung Kings worship ritual reflects the solidarity of the Vietnamese people and honors the Vietnamese moral tradition of "remembering the source of the water we drink". On 6 December 2012, UNESCO officially recognized Hung Kings worship ritual as a World's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
HUONG PAGODA FESTIVAL
Huong Pagoda Festival takes place in Huong Son commune, My Duc district, Ha Noi City. The opening day for the festival is on the 6th day of the 1st lunar month. It lasts until the last weeks of the 3rd lunar month. On this occasion, millions of Buddhists, ordinary people from all regions in the country and foreign tourists make an exciting pilgrimage to Huong Pagoda, the Buddha's land, to pay respect to Buddha. Before the opening day, all the temples and pagodas in the area burn incenses, creating a festive atmosphere all around Huong Son commune. Incense-offering ceremony takes place in Huong Tich Pagoda, including incense, flowers, lights, candles, fruit and vegetarian food. When offering, there are two monks wearing robes and making "chay dan" (herd running), bringing offerings to the altars and performing a dance. From the opening day of the festival until the last day, monks from other pagodas sometimes join and strike the wooden bell while saying prayers in the pagodas, temples and shrines... During the festival, incense burning is kept unending. Huong Pagoda Festival is seen as a convergence of many typical traditional cultural activities such as rowing, mountain climbing, Cheo singing and Van singing... Besides, tourists are largely attracted by the exciting boat ride along Yen stream and the peaceful landscape of the Buddha land.
Lim Festival opens from the 12th to 14th day of the 1st lunar month every year in Tien Du district, Bac Ninh province, formerly known as Kinh Bac, including ancient villages around Lim mountain and along Tieu Tuong river. The Festival commences with an ancestor welcoming ceremony where local people in colorful traditional dresses stand in a line which is around one km in length. Quan Ho male and female singers join worshipping ceremonies at Hong Van imperial tomb (the place to worship Mr. Nguyen Dinh Dien, the Duke of Thanh Hoa, who was born in Dinh Ca village, Noi Due commune, Tien Du district). Lim Festival is also a venue of various folk games such as wrestling, human chess, weaving and earthenware pot breaking... The most interesting event is the Festival singing at noon when the duets between male and female singers take place. As usual, in the 12th evening, Quan Ho singing contest is organized among Quan Ho villages.
Giong Festival is celebrated annually from the 6th to 8th of the 1st lunar month. It is a traditional festival in commemoration and honor of Saint Giong, the legendary hero, one of the four immortals of Vietnamese folk beliefs. The Festival vividly imitates the development of the fights by Saint Giong and Van Lang people combating against An foreign enemies, thereby teaching younger generations of the patriotism, martial art tradition, indomitable will, and desire for national independence and freedom. Giong Festival is celebrated in many locations in the country. However, the most well-known is the Giong Festival at Soc temple (Soc Son district, Ha Noi City). According to legend, after defeating An foreign invaders, Phu Linh commune, Soc Son district is the land where Saint Giong started to fly to heaven. The worshipping place of Saint Giong is in Soc temple, which includes a Saint Giong statue and one stele house. On 6 November 2011, UNESCO recognized the Giong Festival at Phu Dong and Soc temples as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
FEAST AND COMMEMORATION FESTIVAL FOR HOANG SA SOLDIERS
Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa soldiers has been held by local people of Ly Son island district, Quang Ngai province for hundreds of years. It is usually organized on the 20th of the 2nd lunar month. In early time of Hoang Sa Flotilla, local people in Ly Son island were recruited to be soldiers with the duties to carry out the exploitation and protection of Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes. Those men replaced the previous flotilla to continue the work and were called "replace soldiers". The Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa soldiers is a unique festival with the aim to commemorate the sacrifice of soldiers of Hoang Sa. The festival is annually held from the 18th, 19th to 20th of the 2nd lunar month in Am Linh Tu with many activities, and one of the most special activities is the practice of releasing bamboo boats to the sea, meaning sailing into the sea forever. On these days, local people also set up wind tombs for Hoang Sa flotilla soldiers (in commemoration of the death). The festival reaffirms the long-lasting Vietnamese tradition "remembering the source of the water we drink" as well as the nation's determination to safeguard land and sea territories.
ELEPHANT RACING FESTIVAL IN BUON DON
The Elephant Racing Festival is one of the traditional cultural festivals of ethnic minorities in Buon Don district, Dak Lak province, which is organized in March every two years. This is also the honey bee season and the starting time for cultivation. Buon Don hosts the elephant racing festival along with other events such as: water wharf ceremony, a prayer for the elephants' health, buffalo-stabbing festival, new rice celebration, Gong cultural day… in order to pray for a good crop and prosperity for the village. Elephant Racing Festival takes place in one day with various activities such as high-speed elephant racing, elephant racing across Serepok river and elephant football games… with the participation of from 15 to 18 elephants. The Festival is aimed at honoring the spirit of sport activities and taming of elephants in the Central Highlands. It is also an opportunity for local villagers to pay gratitude to God for giving a good crop and prosperity to the village.
NGHINH ONG FESTIVAL
Nghinh Ong (Whale worshipping) Festival is the largest folk ritual in Ca Mau. It comes from the religious belief of Cham ethnic minority. Nghinh Ong Festival gives a chance for fishermen to express their gratitudes towards whales, also known as Nam Hai God, who rescued them in distress at sea. This Festival also aims to pray for fair winds, good seas, safe returns to shore, good lucks and prosperity. The Festival is held annually from the 14th to 16th of the 2nd lunar month in Song Doc town, Tran Van Thoi district, Ca Mau province. The main festival day takes place on the 15th. The Chairman of Festival and management board of temple put an incense burner onto the palanquin (dragon temple), with 8 students follow up them. Teams of traditional drummers together with five-color flags, pills, swords and other dancers wearing formal uniforms stand into two long lines from the main hall to the yard. When parading, people in the area also join them. At the same time, hundreds of fishing boats from inside and outside of the province decorated with flags and flowers are stationed on the river. The main ship, a large one (consisting of 3 units), is selected for Nghinh Ong ceremonies. This ship is decorated with colorful flags and banners. The main ceremonies take place on this ship. The ship leaves its station toward the sea in a frantic and exciting way. If a sprinkler Ong (the whale) is seen, he will be brought back immediately. In case of finding no single whale, the chair of the festival will read a "Nguyen huong" and apply for a "turn" of the whale; people will bring the whale "Ong" back to shore right after its success. It is usually about 5-7 km far from the beach. Arriving at the Ong tomb, the main liturgy will be held, and whale "Ong" will be placed in respect on the main hall. Residents and pilgrims donate their items here until midnight.