Festivals have long been considered the traditional cultural activity of the Vietnamese people. They are attractive to all social classes and have become a necessary part of people's lives for many centuries.
Festivals are the crystallization of cultural, spiritual, and physical activities that have been chosen, maintained, and improved over many generations. Festivals are the living cultural museums of the way people live.
Festivals are also a place to enjoy interesting games. There are many festival contests such as wrestling, rowing, rice cooking, rope pulling, rope climbing, and chess playing. There are also competitions between trained animals such as cock fights, buffalo fights, and pigeon races.
Tet - Vietnamese and Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important Festival of Vietnamese people. This scared Festival sometime between late January or early February (depend on Lunar Calendar ) and Tet has become so familiar to the Vietnamese that when Spring arrives, the Vietnamese, wherever they may be, are all thrilled and excited with the advent of Tet, and they feel an immense nostalgia, wishing to come back to their homeland for a family reunion and a taste of the particular flavors of the Vietnamese festivities.. Although officially a three-day affair, festivities may continue for a week or more with every effort made to indulge in eating, drinking, and enjoyable social activities. It is also a time for family reunions, and for paying respect to ancestors and the elders. Gifts of food are made to friends, neighbors and relatives in the days before Tet. The Tet of the New Year is, above all, is an opportunity for the household genies to meet, those who have helped during the year, namely the Craft Creator, the Land Genie and the Kitchen God. Tet is also an opportunity to invite and welcome deceased ancestors back for a family reunion with their descendants to join the family's Tet celebrations. Finally, Tet is a good opportunity for family members to meet. This custom has become sacred and secular and, therefore, no matter where they are or whatever the circumstances, family members find ways to come back to meet their loved ones, gather for a dinner of traditional foods like bánh chưng (a square cake made of sticky rice stuffed with beans and pork), măng (a soup of boiled bamboo shoots and flied pork) and xôi gấc (orange sticky rice). This is followed by a visit to the local pagodas. Everyone is in a rush to get a haircut, buy new clothes, spruce up their homes, visit friends, settle outstanding debts, and stock up on traditional Tet delicacies. Businesses hang festive red banners which read "Chuc Mung Nam Moi" (Happy New Year) and city streets are festooned. With colored lights. Stalls spring up all over town to sell mut (candied fruits and jams), traditional cakes, and fresh fruit and flowers. Certain markets sell nothing but cone-shaped kumquat bushes. Others sell flowering peach trees, symbols of life and good fortune which people bring into their homes to celebrate the coming of spring. As vendors pour into the City with peach trees strapped to their bicycles, the streets look like moving pink forests. The "Mam Ngu Qua"
The "five-fruit tray" on the ancestral altar during the Tet Holidays symbolizes the admiration and gratitude of the Vietnamese to Heaven and Earth and their ancestors, and demonstrates their aspiration for a life of plenty. Legend said a lot of theories but in a simpler way, the five fruits represent the quintessence that Heaven and Earth bless humans. This is one of the general perceptions of life of the Vietnamese, which is "When taking fruit, you should think of the grower". Dao, Mai, Quat (the Peach, Apricot and Kumquat)
Coming to Vietnam during the season of the Tet festival, the visitor is engulfed in an ocean of colorful flowers. Visiting flower shows, contemplating the buds and blooms, and purchasing blossoms represents one of the distinct Vietnamese cultural characteristics. The peach ( in the North ) and the apricot blossoms (in the South) are symbols of the Vietnamese Tet. The warm pink of the peach could very well match the dry cold of the North, but the hot South seems to be flourishing in the riot of the yellow of the apricot. The mandarin is symbolic of good fortune and, therefore, people tend to choose the little plants laden with fruit, big and orange, and verdant leaves for a longer display.
The Giao Thua ( New Year's eve )
The Giao Thua is the most sacred point of time, the passage from the old to the new year. It is popularly believed that in Heaven there are twelve Highnesses in charge of monitoring and controlling the affairs on earth, each of them taking charge of one year. The giao thua is the moment of seeing off the old chieftain upon the conclusion of his term and welcoming in the new one upon his assumption of office. For this reason, every home makes offerings in the open air to pray for a good new year.
After the giao thua is the start of the new year with many customs and practices, amusements and entertainment, all of a distinct Vietnamese folk culture. If you have an opportunity to visit Vietnam during the Tet Holidays and to welcome the Tet Festivities, together with the Vietnamese people, you will surely be profoundly impressed by the distinct traditional culture that is rich in national identity.
Food specialties for TET
On the last day of the old year, the preparation of food to offer to the ancestors is of special significance. Dishes to offer to the ancestors differ in the Northern, Central and Southern parts of the country, depending on their respective weather conditions at the time and on different local agricultural products available. What is common in all regions of the country during Tet holidays are the varieties of soups, fried, boiled, or stewed dishes, meat, fish, vegetable... The foods that the Vietnamese eat at Tet are varied and diverse What they have in common is that the people throughout the country all want to have the best and the most beautiful looking food on this occasion to offer their ancestors and to treat their friends and guests
Ba Chua Xu Festival
Sam mountain is located 5 kilometers from the town of Chau Doc in An Giang province. This mountain is the centre of a complex of historical sites such as the old Tay An Pagoda, the Ba Chua Xu Shrine, the Hang Pagoda, and the Imperial Tomb of Thoai Ngoc Hau.
The festival of Ba Chua Xu (also called the Via Ba Ceremony) is held annually from the 23rd night to the 27th day of the 4th lunar month. To go to the festival, head along Road No.10 from Long Xuyen to Chau Doc. Sam Mountain is 5 kilometers away from Chau Doc. Also, one can take the waterway from Can Tho to Soc Trang, or from Saigon directly.
On the night of April 23rd, there is a bathing and changing of robes ceremony for the statue of Ba Chua. The bathing water is scented and Ba Chua's old clothes are cut into small pieces to distribute to visitors and pilgrims. The small pieces of clothes are considered lucky, keeping one in good health and driving away evil spirits.
After this ceremony is the Tue Yet Rite, which starts at midnight on the 25th and continues into the early morning of the 26th. This rite petitions Ba Chua's nomination to the heavens with an imposing procession of dragon dances. The Imperial Sedan Chair is taken to Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb for a chanting ritual before being taken back to the shrine of Ba Chua.
Anyone who is keen on the ritual formalities can serve on the prestigious Ritual Board of Ba Chua's Shrine. This board then performs at the Duc Boi Ceremony, accompanied by a group of singers who sing for good weather and a prosperous country.
The Via Ba Ceremony attracts many people to this traditional festival, where they pray for a good future as well as admire the natural scenery of An Giang province.
Dinh Co Festival
Dinh Co is located on Long Hai Beach. According to a legend, a young girl who wanted to live a secluded life accidentally fell into the sea and was buried on Co Son hill by local fishermen. They also built a temple on the beach in her honor.
Every year, Long Hai fishermen organize Dinh Co Festival on the 10th, 11th, and 12th day of the second lunar month. Older fishermen, dressed in traditional trousers, are masters of this religious celebration. They pray for a good fishing year, productive crops, and peaceful life. The boats that are at sea during the celebrations are lighted with bright colors.
Thousands of tourists come and enjoy the great festivities and at the same time pray for a peaceful life.
Ox - Race Festival of the Khmer ethnic group
Ox-race is a typical sport of the Kho-Me ethnics in Bay Nui -An Giang province. It is organized at (Don Ta) Festival from the 9th to 10th of October every year. Don Ta is a traditional great festival of the Khmer to commemorate their forefathers.
A the festival, the Khme drift paper boats, organize x-race. Before the race, a large area is chosen, (200 in long, 100 in wide, with some water) and plowed and harrowed to make it slippery. The area is protected by low walls, there are safety gates for oxen. The race-way is 120 in long, close to the walls. Starting-point is fixed with two flags. The oxen that start from which color have to arrive at the same one. Before the race, the owners agree and draw lots to decide the regulations. During the race, the oxen that do not follow the race-way are decided to lose and those that step op the scaffolding of others are decided to win, the owner has to stand firm, if he falls down from their scaffolding, he is decided to lose.
Before the race, the couples of oxen have to run round the ground twice to the starting-point, the owner, with 3cm long rod, touches the ox, getting pained, the oxen run forwards. The faster the speed, the more interesting is the race. Unlike the horse-race, in horse-race, a man on the horse back and the man to win is the first arrival. The race starts in the early morning, the locals arrive at the point earlier. Distant people come from the day before, they bring with them food, foodstuffs only to enjoy the whole race. There are no seats for spectators, only a place to stand. The ground is crowded, shouting, hand-clapping is heard all the time, especially at heart-breaking, moments.
Ook Om boc Festival
The Oc Om Boc Festival is a religious service to worship the moon god of the Kho Me minority group. The festival is usually held on December 15th of the Buddhist Calendar, or in October following the Gregorian Calendar. At this religious festival, people thank the moon god who brings about good crops, provides abundant fish in the rivers, and maintains the health of human beings.
During the night of the full moon, as the moon appears, people prepare a feast in the front yard of the pagoda or in their houses. A plate of green rice flakes, ripe bananas, fresh peeled coconuts, mangoes and other dishes are served to the moon god.
After the ceremony, the elders ask the children of the house to sit flat on the ground with crossed legs, clasping their hands. The elders then take a handful of green rice flakes and feed all of the children at the same time. People also release paper lanterns into the sky and banana-tree ferries, attached with colorful lights and loaded with offerings into the channels and rivers accompanied by the sound of music. The custom of releasing flying lights and floating ferries is believed to sweep away the darkness and humidity of the rainy season. On the following morning of the full moon, the Ngo Boat Race is held. This crowded festival is well prepared and deemed to be a great cultural event, drawing hundreds of thousands of participants. In Kho Me language, the Ngo Boat is called "Tuk Ngo". This boat is a pirogue, chiseled from a hole in a trunk of good wood , in a lozenge shape. It has a curved head and tail; therefore, it needs skillful sailors to manage it in a competition. Otherwise, it is likely to be capsized.
The racing spectacle takes place in a very serious manner, with the participation of thousands of viewers who stand along a track that stretches for kilometres. The boat master, standing in the middle part of the junk, encourages his teammates with a light gong. When the first boat reaches the finish line, a crowd of people simultaneously scream. They believe that they have just completed their responsibility to the moon god.
Nui Ba Festival
If you go to Tay Ninh, you should visit Nui Ba, a beautiful mountain located in the middle of the Mekong Delta, 11km from downtown Tay Ninh.
Nui Ba (Ba Mountain) is often called Ms. Den Mountain. According to a legend, the mountain was named after a young woman called Denh, but who was referred to as Den. She was the devout daughter of a guard officer of the Mien ethnic minority group. Den left her house to enter a monastery in the mountains. She became a nun due to family pressure to marry a guard officer's son from the Trang Bang Area. She remained at the monastery until she died. After her death, the Nguyen Dynasty ordered that a mould of her be cast in black bronze in her honor as the Linh Son Thanh Mau ( Saint Linh Son). During the spring until the afternoon of the 30th day of the 1st lunar month, and especially on the day of the full moon of the first month, tourists from Ho Chi Minh City and the provinces of the south pilgrimage to worship and sightsee. Starting at the bottom of the mountain, tourists climb one half of the mountain to Saint Linh Son's communal house and then follow a path that leads to a pagoda. This pagoda offers vegetarian meals. Tourists can eat as much as they want, but should donate some money to the pagoda; the amount of the donation depending on the budget of the tourists.
Thang Tam God temple Festival
Temple, and Nam Hai Tomb. The Thang Tam God Temple Festival depicts the culture of Vung Tau fishermen and exemplifies the religious and traditional culture of the country.
The Thang Tam God Temple complex comprises three structures: Thang Tam God Temple, Lady Ngu Hanh.
According to legend, Thang Tam God Temple worships three notables who founded the three Thang villages: Pham Van Dinh, Le Van Loc, and Ngo Van Huyen.
The festival is annually held for four days, from the 17th to the 20th day of the 2nd lunar month. This period also corresponds with the beginning and the end of the local fishing season.
The ceremony consists of a rather complicated worshipping procedure. The festival features several activities, such as lion dances and Hat Boi.
The Thien Hau Pagoda, located in Lai Thieu, is a cultural vestige of Binh Duong Province. The pagoda, which was constructed using ancient techniques, is a place of solemn worshipping.
The festival is organized annually from the 13th to the 15th day of the 1st lunar month. On the 13th, the population of Thu Dau Mot prepares tables placed in front of each house to worship and welcome Ba Thien Hau. A great number of people from neighboring provinces also come to Thu Dau Mot for the occasion.
On the 14th is the Ba welcoming ceremony, which observes traditional rituals. A Ba palanquin is carried throughout the streets, with unicorn dances, lion dances, and many flags. On the 15th, people come to the Ba Pagoda to burn incense, pray, and ask for the protection of the Mandarin to be safe and happy in the next year.
The Thien Hau Pagoda Festival in Lai Thieu is a folk festival bearing the unique culture of the southeast region.
Cau Ngu Festival in Thai Duong Ha
This traditional festival of Thai Duong Ha Village, in Thuan An Town, Phu Vang District, Thua Thien-Hue Province is organized every year on the 12th of the first lunar month in memory of the village's tutelary god Truong Quy Cong (Truong Thieu). He was a native of Thanh Hoa Province, who had merit to reclaim this land and taught the locals fishing and trading.
At 2 am of the 12th day, the chánh tê rite begins. An oration is presented to the deities and the village's predecessors to pray for peaceful, happy and prosperous life to everybody. A woman, on behalf of the whole women in the village, pays homage to the tutelary god. The chánh tê rite ends at 4 am. As the sun rises, a festival to pray for abundant fish is held. Most of fishermen converge on the wharf near the communal house to participate in this festival. The fishermen on the boat cast a net to catch “fish and shrimps”. Following is the performance of selling sea products. The performance lasts more than one hour. Through these performances, fishermen want to express their wishes about good weather and a season of abundant fish. After that, participants enjoy a feast at the communal house.
The festival is followed with a skiff rowing race on Tam Giang Lagoon. The race takes place ebulliently and lasts until the afternoon. The race's meaning is to pray for a life with adequate food and clothing, a good harvest of fish and a bumper crop.
Câu Ngu Festival has become a festival of the whole community and of optimism and hope. It is also a source of encouragement so that fishermen can overcome difficulties in their life and work.
Elephant race festival
This festival is celebrated in the spring, in the 3rd lunar month. It is usually held in Don Village or in forests near the Serepok River, in Dak Lak Province.
The race track is an even ground, preferably large enough for 10 elephants to stand on the same line with a length of 1 to 2 km.
At the horn signal, the mahouts take their elephants to the start line. Once the start command is given, all the elephants rush to the exciting beat of the drums and gongs, accompanied by the viewers' cheering. The winning elephant waves to the viewers with its trunk. The elephant will often take this opportunity to flap its ears gently and to give tender looks to receive sugar canes from the viewers.
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 festivals.
Hon Chen temple Festival
Hon Chen Temple Festival is organized twice every year, during the 3nd and 7th lunar months both at Hon Chen Temple in Ngoc Tran Mount and at the communal house in Hai Cat Village, Huong Tra District, Thua Thien Hue Province (10 km west of Hue). The festival is celebrated in honour of the Holy Mother Thien YA Na who according to Cham legends, created the land and the tree, and taught people the art of growing these trees.
After the ritual, the Holy Mother procession takes place on the Huong River at night which starts from Hue Nam Shrine to Hai Cat Communal House with a long line of boats bound together into a big rafts. The rafts are decorated with worshipping accessories, flags, and banners. Every one wears court dresses look like prince and princess in the Nguyen Dynasty.
When the procession arrives to Hai Nam Communal House, the Tuc Yet ritual starts. Chau van (a kind of ritual songs), hat van hau dong (falling into a trance) performances take place the whole night.
The grand- sacrifices offering ceremony takes place in the morning of the following day. In the afternoon the palanquin processions come back to Hue Nam Shrine. At the end of the festival are ceremonies of releasing and floating lanterns.
The Cham people's Kate Festival takes place annually in three days on the first day of the seventh month by Cham calendar (usually falls on the three days of the end of the ninth month or in the first three days of the tenth month by solar calendar) on a large area, from towers to villages to each family in Phuoc Huu Commune, Ninh Phuoc District, Ninh Thuan Province.
This is the most unique festival of the Cham community. It is not only a chance for the participants to admire the ancient Cham Towers but is where the participants can enjoy unique folk singing, dancing and music. The festival serves as evidence for the cultural richness of the Vietnamese.
The festival consists of two parts, rituals and festivities. Rituals: The rituals are similar in content and the way of conducting (The costume receiving ritual; The tower door opening ceremony; Statue washing ceremony; The ceremony to dress the god; and Great ceremony). Festivities: When the sacred dance in the tower finishes, festivities outside the tower begin. Ginang drums and Saranai trumpets are played. At the same time, Cham folk dances are performed and songs sung, bringing about an exciting atmosphere.
The Kate Festival at Cham towers finishes in late afternoon on the second day. The third day is for village Kate Festival: a festive atmosphere immediately rises in Cham villages but the rituals are simpler than that. The festivities finish in late afternoon. The Kate Festival also comes to an end. Everyone gets back home where they do familial Kate rituals. Masters of such rituals are members of the family or a senior person of the family line. During the festive day, all members of the family get together and pray to their ancestors and gods for good business and good luck. On Kate festive days, the whole village is full of fun, friendship and solidarity. They pay visit and give best wishes to each other. Almost everyone forgets their daily life hardships and enjoy themselves
Quan The Am Festival (Marble Mountains)
Quan Am (Avalokitesvara) Festival on Ngu Hanh Son, Danang is organized on the 19th day of the second lunar month. It was first organized in 1962, for the inauguration of the Avalokiesvara Bodhisattva statue in Hoa Nghiem cave at Thuy Son, west of Ngu Hanh Son Mountains. The same year, the festival was reorganized in Kim Son cave after the construction of the Quan The Am Pagoda on the Kim Son Mount. Until 1991, this festival was organized annually on a large scale and celebrations lasted for three entire days.
Like other traditional festivals, Quan Am (Avalokitesvara) Festival on Ngu Hanh Son, Danang consists of two parts: the religious ceremony and the festival itself. The former takes place with the rituals of Buddhism: The ceremony to worship spring with full rituals; The ceremony of beginning sutra chanting (this ceremony is to pray for peaceful country and prosperous people); The ceremony of giving alms to the wandering souls (the monks pray the Buddha for peace and happiness to the living and for freedom from suffering to the souls of the death); The preaching sessions (about culture, arts); Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue procession.
Activities at the festival: Camping; Boat race; Art performances; “Light” procession; Night-time Lantern Festival; Several other cultural activities
Whale Festival (Ca Ong Festival)
The Whale Festival has been, for centuries, the biggest water festival of the fishermen in Quang Nam, Danang province. The worshipping of the whale is not only about paying respect to their God, but also about ensuring prosperity for the villagers. This festival last for two days in the middle of the 3rd lunar month. On this occasion, the whale temple, as well as all the houses and boats, are beautifully decorated. The peace offering is conducted in the first evening at the whale temple by village elders. Offerings, which do not contain seafoods, are given while the oration is read out. The ceremony is held to respect the Whale God and to pray for the safety and prosperity of the village.
At dawn the following day, there will be a procession of boats on the sea in a set formation. This procession displays the sincerity of fishermen to their Whale God. By midnight, the official ceremony is conducted as school children offer incense and the orchestra plays a classical opera. All the fishing boats and villagers, no matter where they are, will return to take part in the Whale Festival.
Yen Tu Festival
The above inscription is carved into a memorial at the foot of Yen Tu Mountain, beside the Giai Oan (Purgatorial) Stream. The king in question was Tran Nhan Tong, who came to rule Dai Viet in 1258 and twice defeated the Mongol invaders. In 1278 the heroic old king abdicated in favor of his son and, accompanied by some loyal members of his court, traveled into the wilderness. At Yen Tu Mountain he instructed his grieving followers to turn back. He then devoted himself to the study of a local branch of Buddhism, known as Truc Lam (Yellow Bamboo) Buddhism.
Located some 130km northwest of Hanoi, the 1,068-meter mountain of Yen Tu has been an important Buddhist pilgrimage site since the 10th century. Ancient documents refer to Yen Tu as "White Cloud Mountain", a fitting name given that, year-round, the summit is shrouded in mist.
The mountain is dotted with 12 pagodas and hundreds of stupas, religious relics and the tombs of Buddhist monks. One old text describes the stupa towers as a "a forest of spires". To reach the summit takes three to four hours of hard walking up a steep and narrow path, made all the more treacherous by tree roots snaking across it. Pine trees line the path and the surrounding forests contain mahogany, ironwood, rosewood and clumps of huge, yellow bamboo. During the pilgrimage season, which runs from the 10th the first lunar month until at the end of the third lunar month, the hills come alive with rhododendron and camellia blossoms. On the 10th day of the first lunar month, Yen Tu Mountain hosts a major religious festival.
Those who make it to the top of Yen Tu will find a small, bronze-roofed structure called Dong (Bronze) Pagoda. Built in 1994, this shrine occupies the site of a destroyed 17th century pagoda. Nearby stands a large slab of stone known as the "Fairy Chessboard" and a huge bronze bell. Spread to the east, like scattered beads, are the islands of Ha Long Bay. To the west lie the shimmering green deltas of Hai Duong and Bac Ninh provinces. And to the north, beyond Hai Phong, beyond the twisting threads of the Da Bac and Bach Dang Rivers, lie the forests and mountains of northern Vietnam.
But it's not the fine views that inspire most visitors to make the arduous climb to the summit. According to legend, anyone who reaches the top of Yen Tu, offers prayers and incense to the Buddha and strikes the bronze bell three times, will be blessed with wealth, good health and happiness.
Co Loa Festival
The Co Loa Festival is held annually from the 6th to the 16th of the 1st lunar month. It takes place in the pagoda that honors An Duong Vuong in Co Loa Commune, Dong Anh District, Hanoi City. On the 6th day of Tet, the literature procession is preceded by a flag that symbolizes the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth), a musical company, and a sacrifice.
The Literature Stand set at the Imperial Court's Sedan Chair is shaded by a parasol. In the courtyard, one can see many colorful festival flags and Dai Flags (great ones) fluttering in the wind. On either side of the temple gates are a couple of red horses and white horses with colorful saddles.
Preceded by the literature procession is a sacrificial ceremony that lasts until 12 PM. After this ceremony, there is the god procession of 12 villages. Besides these processions, there are many activities such as swinging, rice cooking, singing Vietnamese popular opera and other events.
On the 16th day of the first lunar month, the festival is closed with a thanksgiving ceremony.
Chu Dong Tu Festival
This festival occurs for three days from the 10th - 12th of the second lunar month in Chu Dong Tu Temple in Da Hoa Village (Binh Minh commune) and Da Trach (Da Trach commune), Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen province, 25 km from Hanoi. Saint Chu Dong Tu was one of the "four immortal heroes" at the centre of Vietnamese society. Chu Dong Tu was a cultural hero and the founder of agriculture because he conquered the marsh and developed agriculture and trade. After the opening ceremony, there is a procession to remind people of the legend, life, and work of Saint Chu Dong Tu and his two wives. Traveling ahead of the procession are two splendid golden dragons, controlled by 10 men, dancing gently with the rhythm of the drums. The procession includes a team of musicians, the Saint's chair, and couple of jars. The procession also includes about ten boats that sail to the center of the river to fill the jars with water before returning back to the temple for a statue washing ceremony. After the main ceremony, there are different types of activities conducted such as wrestling, fighting with sticks, Chinese chess, lion dances and other events.
Cua Ong temple Festival
Cua Ong Temple is one of the famous vestiges of the Tran Dynasty in the North-East region The temple was built on three levels, lower, middle and upper , facing the majestic Bai Tu Long Bay. During the war, the middle and lower temples were both destroyed, but the lower temple has been restored. The Cua Ong Temple is dedicated to Tran Quoc Tang, the third son of Tran Hung Dao, who defeated many enemies and brought peace to the region. Hoang Can, a local general who fought bravely against invaders, is also honoured here.
The festivals at the Cua Ong Temple take place every year from the 2nd day of the 1st lunar month until the end of the 3rd lunar month. Formerly, locals organized festivities on the 2nd day of the 3rd lunar month. There were lavish cult ceremonies and a procession carrying Tran Quoc Tang's funeral tablets from the temple to a shrine in the village of Tran Chan. According to legend, Tran Chan was the place where Tang's ashes drifted after being scattered on the river. The procession would then proceed back to the temple, symbolizing the inspection tour of the Emperor.
Do temple Festival
The Do Temple is a beautiful example of religious architecture located Dinh Bang village, Dinh Bang Commune, Tu Son District, Bac Ninh Province, just 18 km from Hanoi. The festival starts annually from the 14th to the 16th day of the third lunar month to commemorate the achievements of the eight emperors of the Ly Dynasty.
The main day of the festival is the 16th, which was the day when Emperor Le Thai To ascended the throne. On this day, there is a ceremony for the saint and a solemn procession. Tens of thousands of people participate in the procession from the Kim Dai Pagoda to the temple (around 3 km).
The entourage includes hundreds of warriors and half-naked army officers in loincloths carrying brass rods. They are followed by porters dressed in red wearing black hats. At the head of the procession, there is a representative of the Mother Saint accompanied by 18 female generals, and then representations of the eight emperors. Each is accompanied by a horse and 16 generals decked out in bright red.
The procession to the Do Temple deals with the spiritual significance of the festival, and it commemorates historical characters.
Do Son buffalo fighting Festivals
The Buffalo Fight in Do Son (Haiphong City) is officially held every year on the 9th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. There are, in fact, two rounds of elimination before the middle of the 5th month and 8th day of the 6th 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.
Dong Da Festival
The Dong Da Festival (Dong Da District - Hanoi) is held annually on the fifth day of the first lunar month. This festival celebrates the triumphant victory against the invaders of the Vietnamese nation lead by King Quang Trung (Nguyen Hue), a Tay Son farmer who later became a hero.
Two centuries ago (around 1789), Dong Da was a battlefield where more than 290,000 soldiers were killed. Dong Da Hill became a glorious historical site of the Vietnamese nation. In the early morning of the 5th day of the Tet Holiday, a procession for the deity of celebration commences at Khuong Thuong and ends at Dong Da Hill. The procession includes flags, a processional parasol, palanquins with a variety of colors, and the sounds of gongs and drums.
The procession moves slowly with the characteristic of a triumphant victory. The most special part of the procession is the fire dragon which is decorated with straw, cataphyll, and coarse paper. A group of youth, dressed in martial suits, then goes around and performs a piece that recounts the whole period of the war.The "Thang Long Fire Dragon" has become a symbol of victory for the Vietnamese nation.
When the procession comes to Dong Da Hill, there is a ceremony after which someone reads the story of the victory of Ky Dau that praises the military genius of the national hero, Quang Trung. There are also various games and competitions that challenge the skill and intelligence of the participants on the wide field in front of hill.
Dong Nhan temple Festival
Dong Nhan Temple is located in Dong Nhan Precinct, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi. The festival of Dong Nhan Temple is held annually from the 3rd to the 6th day of the second lunar month.
The temple was established in honour of Hai Ba Trung (Two Trung Sisters) who were proclaimed the heroines of Vietnam as they greatly contributed to the defeat of the Dong Han invaders and to the glorious pages of the history of the country.
The main festival occurs on the 5th day when there is a ceremony for bathing the statues, opening the back palace, making sacrifices, and light dancing.
A solemn procession of the statues from the temple to the Hong River is followed by many exciting activities at the completion of the bathing ceremony, including the altar-light dance. This dance is performed by 12 young beautiful girls in colorful dresses holding two lights in their hands. The festival is finished with an incense burning ceremony.
The Dong Festival is held on the 9th day of the fourth lunar month in Phu Dong Village, Gia Lam District, Hanoi.
This large festival is held on the 9th day of the 4th month of the lunar calendar. The date commemorates Saint Dong who defeated the An invaders. In order to show their gratitude to the hero of Dong Village who sacrificed his life to fight invaders, the people proclaimed him Saint Dong.
Preparation for the festival occurs from the 1st day of the 3rd lunar month to the 5th day of the 4th lunar month. The procession starts from the Mother Temple to Thuong Temple with the performance of a religious service. After reaching the temple, a feast for the troops occurs. When night falls, a Cheo play is performed (a classical Vietnamese opera). The festivities ends on the 10th day of the 4th month, as the troops withdraw and a thanksgiving procession takes place.
At the Dong Festival, people can make connections with their the neighbors, with relatives, between the individuals within a community, and with the past and present. This festival blends together the traditions of love for the motherland and the preservation of the cultural heritage.
Hung temple Festival
Hung temple is located on Nghia Linh Mountain, Hy Cuong Commune, Lam Thao District, Phu Tho Province. Every year, this national festival is held to worship the Hung Kings, who were instrumental in founding the nation.
The festival lasts for 4 days from the 8th to the 11th day of the third lunar month. The worship service is held on the 10th day and commences with a flower ceremony with the participation of state representatives. Held in Thuong Temple, where the Hung Kings used to worship deities with full rituals, the ceremony consists of a lavish five-fruit feast. Cakes and glutinous rice dumpling are also served to remind people of the Lang Lieu Legend (the 18th Hung King who invented these cakes), and the merit of the Hung Kings who taught people to grow rice.
Next to the stage procession for deities, there are several marches in the procession, such as the elephant march followed by the procession chair. These procession marches are conducted in Tien Cuong, Hy Cuong, Phuong Giao, and Co Tich Villages. The procession marches are followed by a Xoan song performance (a classical type of song) in the Thuong Temple, "Ca Tru" (a kind of classical opera) in Ha temple, and other activities.
The Hung Temple Festival not only attracts visitors from all over and allows visitors to participate in special traditional cultural activities, but it is also a sacred trip back in time to the origins of the Vietnamese culture. People usually show their love and pride of their homeland and ancestral land. This religious belief is deeply imbedded in the minds of every Vietnamese citizen, regardless of where they originate.
Keo pagoda Festival
Keo Pagoda is located in Duy Nhat Commune, Thai Binh Province. This great pagoda was built as early as 17th century in honour of a monk whose name has been recorded in books: Duong Khong Lo. This man was originally a fisherman, then entered religion and attained Nirvana. He knew magic and once came to the capital to cure King Ly Thanh Tong so he was honored as the teacher of princes. He had Nghiem Quang Pagoda built and later renamed it Than Quang (Keo Pagoda). The Keo Pagoda festival is annually held for three days, from 13th to 15th of the 9th lunar month to worship Buddhist Duong Khong Lo. He died on the 3rd day of the sixth lunar month, the festival of Keo Pagoda starts on the 13 of the 9th month, 100 days after his death. The 14th day of the 9th lunar month is his birthday. The festival lasts one more day, through the 15th because it is the day in the middle of the lunar month, usually marked by Buddhists.
On the 13th, the festival begins with a procession to remind people of the anniversary of Buddhist Duong Khong Lo. Then a boat race and a competition of literary recitation are held in the afternoon. When the night falls, it is time for a trumpet and drum competition.
On the morning of the 14th, Khong Lo's birthday is celebrated. It is followed by a procession including a red and white horse pulling a carriage. The carriage is accompanied by eight flag bearers and 42 men carrying bat but luu bo, a classical Vietnamese weapon. In the afternoon of the 14th, in Gia Roi temple, people hold a worshipping ceremony. On the 15th, all ceremonies continue in a more entertaining manner with more traditional games such as duck catching, rice cooking competition, firecrackers hurling contest.
Kiep Bac temple Festival
The Kiep Bac Temple, where people come to worship Tran Quoc Tuan, the main general of the Tran Dynasty, is located in Hung Dao Commune, Chi Linh District, Hai Duong Province. Tran Quoc Tuan was the general who defeated the Chinese Nguyen-Mong invaders three times. Because of his merits to the nation, he was proclaimed a saint.
To get to Kiep Bac Temple from Hanoi City, take the National Highway that leads to the township of Bac Ninh (about 30 km). Then, go along National Highway No.18 that stretches from Bac Ninh to Pha Lai, and which eventually leads to Kiep Bac Temple. The Kiep Bac Temple Festival lasts from the 16th to 20th day of the 8th lunar month.
A pilgrimage to the Kiep Bac Temple Festival has been deemed a centuries old Vietnamese custom honoring Saint Tran. The main day of the festival occurs on the 20th day of the 8th lunar month, but from the previous days onward, the festival attract visitors from all over. The main ceremony is followed by a great ceremony with elaborate worshipping procedures. This ceremony is followed next by a procession where Saint Tran's ancestral tablet is brought on a golden procession chair, passing three walled gates toward the river bank. The procession chair is then placed on a royal barge. The procession march lasts for two hours and then Saint Tran's ancestral tablet is brought back to the main temple for the last religious service.
In the olden times, the religious service in the Kiep Bac Temple Festival was simple and conducting a trance was the main activity. The festival has been improved, but it still bears the special characteristics of the traditional national identity. One of the most interesting activities in the festival is the boat race on the Luc Dau River, in which hundreds of boats participate. The boat race is like flying arrows rushing through the air as the boats are urged along by drumming sounds and the screaming of excited people. Taking part in the Kiep Bac Temple Festival, participants relive the atmosphere of when Tran Quoc Tuan placed his troops into a battle-array. This festival makes the Vietnamese people feel proud of the glorious traditions of their nation.
"Quan Ho" is a special folk song of Kinh Bac Province, now called Bac Ninh Province. Lim is the simple name of Lung Giang Commune of Tien Son District in Bac Ninh Province. The village is located 18 km from Hanoi. 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 1st 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
Lieu Doi wrestling Festival
Lieu Doi Village is located in Liem Tuc Commune, Thanh Liem District, Ha Nam Province. This village festival occurs annually on the 5th day of the first lunar month. The villagers hold this wrestling festival to thank Thanh Ong (a man of the Doan family who fought against Chinese invaders and was also the ancestor of wrestling). Unlike other festivals, wrestling is the main sport among other activities of the festival.
The procession ceremony begins in the solemn atmosphere of the martial spirit. The next phase of the festival is the open fire ceremony. A great flame is set up, and an alderman hands over the sword and a reddish towel to the wrestlers. This ceremony is called "giving of the sword and the reddish clothes ceremony". The last activity is the Thanh Dong ceremony and after several solemn ceremonies, the wrestling competition begins. First, two boys are elected by the villagers to wrestle for five rounds as a presentation (Five Round Custom). Next, the wrestlers from other localities participate in the round. Apart from the wrestling activity, the Lieu Doi Festival also has activities such as the performance of popular satirical verses, alternating folk songs, and the tasting of special dishes prepared by the local people for competition at the festival.
Huong pagoda Festival
The Huong Pagoda (Huong Pagoda) and the Huong Tich Cave is a famous scenic spot of Vietnam. It is located in Huong Son Commune, My Duc District, Ha Tay Province, 70 km from Hanoi.
The Huong Pagoda consists of a group of caves and is an impressive architectural ensemble of both human and natural endeavor.
The Huong Pagoda Festival lasts from the 6th day of the first lunar month to the end of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar. Visitors can get to the Huong Pagoda either by the inland road that goes the Hanoi - Ha Dong - Van Dinh - Huong Son route, or by water from the township of Phu Ly along the river to Duc Wharf in Yen Vi. The Vietnamese believe that Huong Son is Buddha's Heaven. Huong Son is considered the place to worship Brodhisattva Kwan Yin. People conduct a dragon dance in the yard of Trinh Pagoda, and sail the royal barge on the 6th day of the 1st lunar month. The festival is held in three places, Huong Tich, Tuyet Son, and Long Van. The festival is most crowded from the 15th - 20th day of the 2nd lunar month as this period marks the main festival. The path leading from Ngoai Pagoda to Trong Pagoda is full of visitors coming up and down the mountain.
A pilgrimage to the Huong Pagoda is not only for religious reasons, but also to see the numerous natural landscapes and the buildings that are valuable artifacts of the nation.
Thay Pagoda Festival
The Thay Pagoda is located at the foot of Sai Son Mountain in Quoc Oai, Ha Tay. The Thay Pagoda Festival is the opportunity to worship sorcerer Tu Dao Hanh; a Buddhist monk who became king and created the Vietnamese water puppet show.
The festival is held every year from the 5th to the 7th of the 3rd lunar month. The main celebration is on the 7th. The festival begins with Buddha worshipping and platform running, a religious performance supported by traditional music in a solemn atmosphere.
During the festival, numerous games are played. The most famous performance is the water puppet show given on water in front of the Thuy Dinh or Temple.
After ceremonies for Buddha, visitors enjoy hiking and admiring all the beauties of the Doai region. Visitors also enjoy hearing the many famous legends that enrich the traditional value of this beautiful region.
Phu Day Festival
Phu Giay is located in Kim Thai Commune, Vu Ban District, Nam Dinh Province, some 15 km away from the downtown Co Le. It is the place where Queen Lieu Hanh is worshipped and where she was proclaimed Queen Mother. Her legend is sung from one generation to another throughout the nation, from the north to the south, from the deltaic regions to the mountainous ones. It was believed that Phu Giay was the center of the homeland.
The Phu Giay Festival is held from the 1st to 10th day of the 3rd lunar month, but the main day of the festival occurs on the 3rd day. The annual event of the Phu Giay Festival is a procession from the main mansion of Tien Huong to the Goi Pagoda on the 6th day of the 3rd month to honour the Queen Mother. This procession is nearly 1 km long and has a somber atmosphere with musicians and an octet band.
A letter forming game is held on the 7th day of the 3rd month. These types of games are a typical feature of the festival. For each game, there can be about 100 participants, holding flags and wearing uniforms with red and white trousers, yellow shirts, blue belts, and red leggings. Each person holds one stick which is about 2m long. The commander of each team is called the flag manager. When the game starts, the procession owner asks the Queen Mother for "letters". The owner then commands the flag managers to guide his team to form a letter. The letters formed are decided by the annual organizers.
During the festival, there are other games and competitions such martial sports. At the Phu Giay Festival, one can participate in the anniversary festival of Queen Mother's death, enjoy the beauty of the mansion, and wish for luck and happiness from the Queen Mother
Trieu Khuc Village Festival
The Trieu Khuc Village ( Thanh Tri, Hanoi ) Festival is held annually from the 10th to the 12th of the 1st lunar month in honor of national hero, Phung Hung (791–802).
The festival starts with the bong dance, a traditional dance to worship the village's tutelary spirits. Next is the most impressive ceremony of the festival: the dragon dance. It takes place along the village streets and ends in the temple yard. The dragon dance is generally followed by the lion dance, which is simpler than the previous dance. And finally to conclude the festival is the flag dance. This part of the festival is meant to remind the population of the story of Phung Hung who collected talented men for his army.
Truong Yen Festival
The Truong Yen Festival takes place on the 10th day of the 3rd lunar month in Hoa Lu, ancient capital of Dai Co Viet which was the first regime of concentrated power in Vietnam. The festival usually lasts for three days and is held in honor of the Dinh and Le Kings.
The Truong Yen Festival starts with the water procession, which leaves from the Dinh King's Temple with colorful flags, the royal chair, and a jar of holy water to go to the Hoang Long River to get some water, and finally returning to the Temple. Worshipping ceremonies are held during the night in both Dinh King and Le King Temples. Then, visitors can burn joss sticks and visit ancient architectural structures. Several games are traditionally played during the festival; for example, Lau flag is a game that consists of performing the same maneuvers young hero Dinh Bo Linh accomplished during his childhood.
Going to Truong Yen gives one an opportunity to visit an ancient dynastic capital and to see traditional architectural structures.