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You are here:      Home News Top festival in Vietnam
Top festival in Vietnam
Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan)
Tet falls on a time when the old year is over and the New Year comes by lunar calendar. This is also the time when the cycle of the universe finishes: winter ends and spring, the season of birth of all living things, comes.
Tet is an occasion for pilgrims and family reunions. It is a time when one pays respect to his/her ancestors and grandparents who have brought up him/her. It is an occasion when everyone sends each other best wishes for a new year, stops thinking about unhappy things and says good things about each other.
On the 23rd day of the twelfth month by lunar calendar, there is a rite to see Tao Quan (Kitchen God) off. The rite to say goodbye to the old year is held on the 30th or 29th day (if that month has only 29 days) of the twelfth month by lunar calendar. The rite to welcome the New Year is held at midnight that day. The rite to see off ancestral souls to return to the other world is often held on the 3rd day of the first month by lunar calendar when the Tet holidays finish and everybody goes back to work.
There are various customs practiced during Tet such as ancestral worshipping, visiting a person’s house on the first day of the new year, wishing Tet wishes, giving lucky money to young children and old people, wishing longevity to the oldest people, opening rice paddies or opening a shop.
Lim Festival
Quan Ho" is a special folk song of Kinh Bac Province, now called Bac Ninh Province. The festival takes place on Lim Hill where the Lim Pagoda is located. This pagoda is where Mr. Hieu Trung Hau, the man who invented Quan Ho, is worshipped. The Lim Festival takes place every year on 13th day of the first lunar month. Visitors come to enjoy the festival and see the performances of "lien anh" and "lien chi". These are male and female farmers who sing different types of songs in the pagodas, on the hills, and in the boats.
Besides this, visitors can come to the Lim Festival to enjoy the weaving competition of the Noi Due girls. They weave and sing Quan Ho songs at the same time. Like other religious festivals, the Lim Festival goes through all the ritual stages, from the procession to the worshipping ceremony, and includes other activities. The Lim Festival is a special cultural activity in the North. The festival celebrates the "Quan Ho" folk song which has become a part of the national culture and a typical folk song that is well loved in the Red River Delta region.
Hung Temple Festival
The festival begins with a palanquin procession performed by three villages of Co Tich, Vi Cuong and Trieu Phu. The procession carries bamboo elephants and wooden horses symbolizing the submission of animals to the Kings Hung and the wedding of the Mountain Genie and Princess Ngoc Hoa. Banh chung (square sticky rice cake) and banh giay (round sticky rice cake) are indispensable offerings in the procession in order to honour the merit of the Kings Hung who taught people to plant rice and to remind people of Lang Lieu who invented these cakes.
The worship service is held on the 10th day of the 3rd lunar month and commences with a flower ceremony with the participation of state representatives. Held in Thuong Temple, where the Kings Hung used to worship deities with full rituals, the ceremony is conducted with the traditional rituals representing the whole nation. During that time, the nha to Do Ngai guild performs singing and dancing to welcome visitors.
The children of the Kings Hung throughout the country converge on the temple to offer incense. The procession includes the state representatives, one hundred young men and women in traditional costumes symbolizing “children of the Dragon and Fairy” and pilgrims.
The procession marches are followed by a Xoan singing performance (a kind of folk song of Vinh - Phu region) in Thuong Temple, ca tru (a kind of classical opera) in Ha Temple, and other activities including bamboo swings, nem con (throwing a sacred ball through the ring), cham thau (beating bronze drum), dam duong (pounding rice).
Hung Temple Festival not only attracts visitors from all over the country because of its special traditional cultural activities, but it is also a sacred trip back in time to the origins of the Vietnamese nation. People usually show their love and pride of their homeland and ancestral land. This religious belief deeply imbedded in the minds of every Vietnamese citizen, regardless of where they originate.
Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival
The Buffalo Fight in Do Son (Haiphong City) is officially held every year on the 9th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. There are, in fact, two rounds of elimination before the middle of the fifth month and 8th day of the sixth lunar month.
The preparation for this festival is very elaborate. Fighting buffaloes must be carefully selected, well fed, and trained. These buffaloes must be between 4 and 5 years old, with a good appearance, a wide chest, a big groin, a long neck, an acute bottom, and bow shaped horns. The fighting buffaloes are fed in separate cages to keep them from contact with common buffaloes.
The beginning of the worshipping ceremony lasts until lunch time. A typical procession begins with an octet and a big procession chair, carried by six strong young men. The six clean buffaloes that are part of the ceremony are covered with red cloths and bound with reddish bands on their horns. There are 24 young men who dance and wave flags as two teams of troops start fighting. After this event, a pair of buffaloes are led to opposite sides of the festival grounds and are made to stand near two flags called Ngu Phung. When the right signal is released, the two buffaloes are moved to within 20m of each other. At the next signal, the two leaders release the ropes that are attached to the noses of the buffaloes. The two buffaloes then rush into each other with well practiced movements. The spectators then shout and urge the fighting along.
At the completion of the fight, the spectacle of "receiving the buffaloes" is very interesting as the leaders must then catch the winning buffalo to grant it its reward.
The Buffalo Fight in Do Son is a traditional festival that is attached to a Water God worshipping ceremony and the "Hien Sinh" custom. The most typical reason for the ceremony is to express the martial spirit of the local people in Do Son, Haiphong.
Elephant Race Festival
The Elephant Race Festival takes place in springtime, normally in the third lunar month. In preparation for the festive day, people take their elephants to places where they can eat their fill. Apart from grass their food also includes bananas, papayas, sugar canes, corns, sweet potatoes. The elephants are free from hard work to preserve their strength.
On the big day, elephants from different villages gather at Don Village. People from near and far in their best and colourful costumes flock to the festival. The racing ground is 500m long and wide enough for ten elephants to stand simultaneously.
After a salvo of tu va (horns made into musical instruments), the elephant handlers called nai take their elephants to the ground, standing in a row at the starting point. The leading elephant stands in front, whirling his trunk and nodding his head in greeting the spectators. Atop each elephant there are two handlers in traditional costumes for generals. The tu va signals the start of the race and the elephants rush forwards amidst the resounding cry of the spectators.
The first handler uses an iron stick called kreo in M'Nong language to speed the elephant. The second handler beats the elephant with a wooden hammer called koc to ensure its speed and to keep it in the right line. Upon seeing the first elephant dashing to the destination the spectators shout boisterously amidst the echoing sound of drums and gongs.
The winning elephant is given a laurel wreath. Like its owner, the elephant expresses its happiness and enjoy the sugar canes and bananas from the festivalgoers. After this race, the elephants participate in the competition of swimming across the Serepok River, of tug-of-wars, or throwing balls and playing football.
Coming to this Elephant Race Festival , tourists have a chance to indulge in the boisterous atmosphere of the festival, of the echo of gongs and the spectacular performances of the elephants from the Central Highlands forest.
When the race comes to an end, the competing elephants bring back the atmosphere of the festival to their villages. Upon returning to their village, they receive warm welcome from the villagers. Very often the elephants from Don Village win the prizes as the village has a tradition of training and tending elephants.
The elephant race constitutes a big festival in the Central Highlands. It reflects the martial spirit of the M'Nong people, an ethnic group famous for their bravery in wild elephant hunting. The magnificent landscape of the Central Highlands further stresses the grandiose characters of this traditional festival.
 

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