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Vietnam Festivals
Ve Pagoda Festival

ve pagodaTime: September 7th – 17th (From the 10th to the 17th day of the eighth lunar month)

Place: Bach Dang River Wharf, Hai Phong City.

Objects of worship: Buddha, Saint Tran (Tran Hung Dao General)

Characteristics:  Saying prayers, incense – offering ceremony. Special offering is sesame rice pancakes. According to an old tale, Tram Hung Dao used rice pancakes that had sesame sprinkled on them as a battle map, then sent them to all his army to see and know his strategy. The festival is called “ strategy plan of eating and fighting invaders”.

Dolta Ceremony and Ox Racing Festival

Duabo festivalTime: September 26th - 28th) From the 29th day of the eighth lunar month to the 1st day of the ninth lunar month)
Location: In pagodas, or at each household of the Khmer people in Tri Ton or Tinh Bien District, An Giang Province.
Objects of worship: In remembrance of ancestral merits and wishing happiness and peace for the deceased’s souls.
Activities: Ox racing according to traditional ritual of the Khmer people

The ox racing is held in a large ground 60m wide and 170m long which is surrounded by high earthen rampart where spectators can stand. The racing lane is 100m long and 4m wide. Its two ends are marked with departure and destination poles.
Each racing tournament involves 38 pairs of oxen selected from competition in commune level. Most of the oxen have strong posture: big head, straight back, solid bone, long tail, small ear, round neck and gentle eye. The nearer the competition draws, the more boisterous the atmosphere becomes.
When the competition starts, each pair of oxen is yoked to a harrow which is made of a plank of wood 30cm wide and 90cm long with teeth underneath.

Each round of competition includes two pairs of oxen. The controller stands on the harrow waving his whip. He must stand firm otherwise he will lose due to violation of regulations.
The competition consists of two rounds: hu and tha. It can be considered that hu is the selection round, and tha the real contest, which displays the strength of the oxen and the skill of their controllers. In the hu round, each pair of oxen has to go around the competition ground two times for warming up and performance. If any pair steps on the harrow of another pair will lose. However, in the 120m-long tha round, those stepping on the harrow of others will win. The departure and destination points are marked with two green and red poles 5m away from each other. The oxen in the lane of green poles must reach the destination marked by poles of the same color. In the race the controllers hold a rattan whip or a round stick called xa lu. After the signal of the referee, the controller shoves the xa lu into the oxen’s buttock to make them rush forward amidst the resounding cry of the spectators.

The final round is always the most boisterous time. The oxen seem like horses and their controllers, experienced jockeys. The racing oxen become the pride of the whole village. As such the controllers, the owners of the oxen and the oxen themselves all try hard to show their skill and strength. The prize-winning oxen are much loved for their efforts to bring about the honor for their owners.

The ox racing in An Giang has an age old tradition. The men in the village take this community event as an opportunity to show their courage and dexterity.
Welcoming the Lord Whale Festival

nghinh ong festivalTime: September 12th - 14th (From the 15th to the 17th day of the eighth lunar month).
Location: Mausoleum of the Water General, Hung Thanh Hamlet, Can Thanh Commune, Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City.
Objects of worship: Ong Fish (The Whale).
Activities: The cult of the whale of the fishermen in the coastal areas. Traditional ritual of procession and sacrifice offering.

The festival of welcoming the Lord Whale or the cult of the Lord Whale is popular in many coastal localities from Ngang Pass to Ha Tien, Phu Quoc Island. This constitutes one of the biggest festivals of the fishermen. Different names are given to this festival: the procession of the Whale’s skeleton, the ceremony of praying for fish, the sacrifice offering ceremony dedicated to the Whale, the festival of welcoming the Whale and so on. However it is believed that the Whale is holy sea creatures, the saviour of fishermen and those living in the sea in general. This traditional popular belief has been handed down from generation to generation of fishermen in many localities.

The tomb of the Water General, who King Tu Duc conferred the title of Nam Hai Tuong Quan (The General of the Sea), is the venue for the annual ceremony of the fishermen in Can Gio in remembrance of the Whale.

On the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, many cultural activities take Location, stirring up the festive atmosphere.

At about 10 a.m. in the morning of the 16th day of the eighth lunar month, village dignitaries in traditional outfits carry out the procession of the palanquin of Nam Hai Tuong Quan to the sea. The fleet of dragon boats sets out at the Can Gio Wharf in Vung Tau. The fishermen and other people burn incense and present offerings in welcoming the fleet along its way to the sea. The dragon boat welcoming the Water General is accompanied by hundreds of boats of various sizes and decoration. An altar and a tray of offerings are put in the front of the dragon boat. It takes about two hours for the fleet to come back to the departure point. Then a procession of the Water General to his tomb is held. A group of lion and dragon dancers perform to welcome the procession.

The procession follows solemn rites in accordance with traditional rituals. Other cultural and artistic activities also take Location inside and outside the Water General’s tomb, even until late into the night.
From 8 a.m to 10 p.m on the 17th day of the eighth lunar month, a ceremony of reading the royal order of promotion of the Water General is held. This ceremony also features religious singing. This ritual also puts an end to the festival.

The festival in the tomb of the Water General is inspired with the sincere wishes of the fishermen for safety in service of their business and their gratitude and honor of the Holy Whale
Nghinh Ong Festival in Vung Tau

nghinh ong festival1Time:September 13th - 15th  (From the 16th to the 18th day of the eighth lunar month).
Location: Ca Ong Tomb, Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Vung Tau City.
Objects of worship: Ca Ong.
Activities: Procession of Ca Ong on sea.

This is the chance for fishermen pray for safe, catching many shrimps and fish. Time of the festival coincides with the day of whale's death. The festival involves the rites of Ong worshipping, procession of Ong on sea by a big decorated boat with flag and flowers, bustling with drums and gongs. After the rituals are games such as boi singing, ba trao singing, martial performance
Lam Kinh Festival

LamkinhfestivalTime: Septemper 25th  (The 22nd day of the eight lunar month), the death anniversary of Le Loi.
Objects of worship: King Le Thai To (Le Loi).
Location: King Le Temple, Xuan Lam Commune, Tho Xuan District, Thanh Hoa Province.
Activities: Ly lien singing and dancing and fair exhibition.

The festival is organized in Lam Kinh, Tho Xuan District, Thanh Hoa Province, where Lam Kinh Palace, the mausoleums and tombs of the Le Kings are located here. At the Muc Son Quay, in front of the tomb area in the present-day Xuan Lam Commune, there is a small temple dedicated to King Le Thai To (or Le Loi). In the past, every three years, on the King’s death anniversary on the 22nd day of the eighth lunar month, the Le Kings and other mandarins from Dong Kinh (Thang Long - Ha Noi) came here to carry out the ritual. Besides, the local residents hold an annual festival to commemorate the hero at this temple.

Besides the sacrifices- offering ceremony, incense offering rite and other rituals like in many festivals throughout the country, in Lam Kinh Festival, there were ly lien (or ri ren) singing and dances and other performances. Many couples of young boys and girls, hand in hand, danced and sang and performed the game “planting flowers” and “plaiting flowers.” Later, these performances were relocated by the ca cong and hue tinh singings and the performances of some stories of Binh Ngo pha tran and Chu hau lai trieu. In the festival, there was also the performance of bronze drums. The festival was attended not only by the Kinh (Viet) people but also other ethnic minorities in Thanh Hoa. On the occasion, they brought and sold in the festival a lot of their forest and native products (bee’s honey, aloe wood, cinnamon, mushroom, cat’s ear, herbs, etc.) to form a bustling market.
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