Traditional Festival is a form of cultural activities, it is a spiritual product that is formed and developed throughout the course of Vietnamese history. The saying “When drinking the water, think of the source” is the traditional of thousands Vietnamese generation. Traditional festival is the event reflecting that precious tradition of community, honoring the scared image, holly Spirit who are national legend or real people that contributed a lot for the country.
They can be war heroes, explorer of the new land, creators of the occupation, or someone who helped their people while facing natural disasters, killed aggressive carnivores or gave medical care to other people. The legendary characters are imaginary which have good effects on people’s thought, lead people’s mind into good direction, help people to live happy lives. Festival is an opportunity for everyone to return to human origin, natural origin and origin of the nature each of which has the sacred meaning in people’s mind.
There are various festivals celebrated in Vietnam throughout the year, but spring is season of festivals. Below are some of typical festivals in Vietnam that tourists should not miss when travelling to Vietnam.
The typical festivals in Northwest of Vietnam
Long Tong Festival
It’s also known as Xuong Dong Festival, is a typical event in Tay tradition. The festival is organized annually in the 4th day of the year (according to Lunar Calendar).
The long-standing festival aims to pray for an abundant crop, good health, a prosperous New Year, and happy family life. After the rituals, locals take part in some games, such as lion dance, stick dance, “nem con” (throwing a scared ball through the ring), crossbow shooting, stilt walking.
“Cau an” festival of Muong Minority (People pray for peace)
It’s a traditional festival of Thai and Muong ethnic groups in Mai Chau, Thuan Chau, Moc Chau. The festival is held annually at the end of the first lunar month or the beginning of the second lunar month. It’s is an original cultural activity of ethnic minority groups in Southwest of Vietnam.
Ban flower festival (a kind of popular flower in Southwest of Vietnam)
Ban flower festival is a traditional festival of Thai ethnic minority, also known as Xen Ban, Xen Muong festival, annually held in the second lunar months (Ban means beautiful and delicious). This is also when the warmth of “last spring” covers everywhere and Ban flower blossom is out.
Apart from enjoying the charming beauty of flower forests, visitors also know more about the culture of ethnic minorities in Vietnam as the festival is a great occasion when the Thai boys and girls can meet, chat, and even date all day. As for the real meaning behind the event, Thai people would like to show their gratitude to their ancestors by worship and wish good harvests for their land.
The typical festivals in Northern Delta Vietnam
Perfume Pagoda Festival
The Perfume Pagoda Festival is a longest lasting festival in Vietnam, is officially begin on the 6th day of the 1st month to the end of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar (the main festival is 15th of the second lunar month). Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims travel to this scared to pray for happiness and prosperity in the coming year.
Visitors can get to the Perfume Pagoda either by the inland road or by water way. The Vietnamese believe that Huong Son is Buddha’ Heaven and Perfume Pagoda is considered the place to worship Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. A pilgrimage to the Perfume Pagoda Festival is not only for religious reasons, but also to see the numerous natural landscape and the buildings that are valuable artifacts of the nation.
King Hung Temple Festival
King Hung Temple festival is a traditional festival which honors the first King of Vietnam – King Hung. It’s occasion for every Vietnamese to remember their origin and express their respect as well as gratitude to ancestors of Vietnam people. King Hung Temple Festival take place yearly at King Hung Temple from the 8th to 11th day of the third lunar month in the year. This festival includes two parts: the incense-offering ceremony and recreational activities.
The former, an important part of the festival, is held at Upper Temple to express respect of gratitude of “Dragon and Fairly descendants” to the ancestors. Sacrifices consist of many things such as a pig, a goat, a cow, Chung cake, Day cake and a lavish five-fruits feast. After hearing the sound of an old bronze drum, the state representatives, followed by the elders around the pilgrims will conduct the incense-offering rite.
The latter carries out around the temples with a mixture of both traditional and modern activities. The most outstanding ones are the precession marches, Xoan singing performance in Upper temple and Ca Tru singing performance in Lower temple. Cross-bow shootings, rice cooking, singing contests, cock fighting and dragon dancing also attract many tourist’s attention.
The Giong Festival, one of the most popular in Red River delta region, is held annually on 9th day of the fourth lunar month in Phu Dong village, Gia Lam District, Hanoi. Its rituals represent the Saint’s feats in the battle against An army: riding a white horse into battle and organizing a sophisticated flag dance to symbolize the battle itself.
The festival highlights an ancestor’s fighting spirit against foreign invaders as well as the people’s aspiration for peace and prosperity. Apart from ritual activities, there are also a wide range of folk games, which effectively draw local residents and visitors to the festival.
The typical festivals in the Central of Vietnam
Lam Kinh festival
The festival is organized in Lam Kinh, Tho Xuan District, Thanh Hoa Provicne, where Lam Kinh Palace, the mausoleums and the tombs of the Le Kings are located here. The annual festival honors national hero Le Loi, who is also known as Le Thai To, the first king of the Vietnamese Le dynasty, as well as the heroes and people who joined the Lam Son Uprising against the Chinese Ming invaders to gain national independence.
In addition to the traditional ceremony, a variety of traditional activities and historical features of Le dynasty can easily be seen during the time of the festival. Visitors attending the festival can have a chance to experience many of its traditional performances of local people such as Xuan Pha, Chieng, Sanh Ngo, Chuoc dancing, Gong performance, sword dancing, Con throwing, traditional archery and many traditional theatrical operas.
This is the largest festival in the year of the Cham community in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan. Kate festival, also called Mbang Kate, is organized by Cham people in Po Klong Garai tower in Ninh Thuan or in Champa Towers. Falling on the first day of the 7th month of the Cham calendar, the festival features a wide range of traditional cultural and sport performance at temples and towers.
The main purpose of the festivals is to commemorate their heroes and deaths in the families. The festival is a chance for the local people to relax, to meet and wish one another fortune in the future.Therefore, it’s a good opportunity for visitors to explore the beauty in the Cham culture, from architecture to costumes, instruments and traditional songs and enjoy traditional music and dance including some activities like performance of Ginang Drum and Saranai Flute or the traditional dance of Cham girls.
Dinh Thay Thim Festival
Dinh Thay Thim Festival is considered to be a traditional cultural folk festival of Binh Thuan, annually organized in Dinh Thay Thim Palace (Tan Tien commune, La Gi town, Binh Thuan province) from 14th to 16th of Lunar September to worship a talent, kind-hearted hermit called Thay, who used magic to help indigent people and his wife – Thim.
Apart from traditional rites, many cultural and sporting activities are also organized, such as performance of playing human chess (people take the place of chess pieces), dragon and lion dances, contest of making cake, carrying baskets to the sea, walking with a carrying pole full of fish, tug of war, mending fishing nets, performances of traditional music and dances, contest of Making Cake, and so on.
The typical festivals in Central Highlands and Southern of Vietnam
The New Rice Festival
The ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands, generally follow polytheism. Among Gods Yang is worshiped, the Gods of rice are respected equally water god, the god of the mountain, the tree spirit. Therefore, the cultivation is sacred, grain cultivation was born from the gods bestow is to feed people. Every year, after the harvest, people celebrated the new meal, just to thank god, has to share the joy resulting effect of a process of hard work, hard work.
But with the organization and conduct some rituals of each ethnic group have different features, but all carry the same meaning: thank god after ending a cycle of five major production. In the Ma, celebration harvested is the biggest festival of the year in the village and usually lasts 7 days. Meanwhile new nuggets feast (Samok) from Bana held for 3 days, the start of harvest, only to then have to go on holidays Somah Kek threshing mass, finally, to the ceremony closed repository (Somah Teng Amang) when the last basket of rice warehouse.
Elephant Racing Festival
Elephant Racing Festival, one of the biggest festivals in Tay Nguyen, is held annually on the third lunar month in Buon Don and Dak Lak. On this festival day, elephants from several villages gather at Don village (Ban Don).Each time, ten elephants will run at the same time for about one or two kilometers; hence, the track’s ground should be even and broad enough. The competition is guided by the sound of tu va, a king of horn.
The first elephant which reaches the appointed destination will receive a laurel wreath as a sign of victory, and it will enjoy the achievement excitedly with sugar canes and bananas from surrounding people. At the end of the festival day, all festival goers mass at Ban Don’s community house for feasting, drinking stem wine, and dancing in a jubilant atmosphere with the boisterous sound of gongs and drums.
Buffalo Sacrifice Festival
Buffalo Sacrifice Festival is an annual festival taking place in the Central Highlands (Tay Nguyen) of Vietnam and organized from the 12th lunar month of the previous year to the 3rd month of the next year. The festival is the most prominent cultural activity among ethnic minority community with the hopes to obtain the wealthy harvest and blissful life. As the sound of Gongs and drums emerges, a buffalo was led to the centre of the ground and the man can kill the buffalo with a single stab only will receive great praises and honor.
Meat of the dead buffalo will be shared to every household in the village, Buffalo’s horns are hung on the wall of the Communal House and its blood is used to wash village’s treasures. After the buffalo sacrifice ceremony is a part of entertaining activities, people keep on dancing and drinking throughout the night and harmonious combination of gongs, flutes and drums sounds.
Ba Chua Xu Festival
The festival is held annually from the 23rd to 27th days of the fourth lunar month in Ba Chua Xu temple, Sam Mountain, Chau Doc commune, An Giang peovince. The festival reflects folk beliefs and the distinct identity of the country and the Southern region. During the festival day, cultural activities are organized such as shadow dance, dragon dances, Vietnamese classical opera singing, martial art performances, chess playing.
Since the middle night of 23rd days, the washing of the statue of Ba Chua Xu ceremony is organized at the temple, which is important ceremony of the festival, attracts thousands of locals and visitors. Attending the event, visitors not only pray the good but enjoy the peaceful landscape of Sam Mountain. The festival is expected to contribute to preserving and promoting its cultural and historical values, as well as raising public awareness of protecting local landscapes and cultural identities.
Apart from above festival in Mekong Delta, other traditional festivals of this region is annually organized such as Ok Om Bok or Chol Chnam Thmay festival also attracts visitors. Combine of landscape sightseeing and historical sites is an ideal plan for those who prefer explore fully Mekong Delta Vietnam.
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