Vietnam Festivals and Events
The festivals and events are calendared in Lunar month. Normally, a lunar month stay later than western month of around 30 days. For those who are deeply interested in cultural and spiritual events, choosing Vietnam tours and taking part in Vietnam festivals will be one of the best ways to enjoy Vietnam holiday and Vietnam travel.
HONCHEN TEMPLE FESTIVAL
The Hon Chen Temple Festival is organized twice every year in the 3rd and the 7th lunar months. The festival takes place at the Hon Chen temple, 10 km west of Hue. It starts with a procession referred to as the God Welcoming ceremony, said to bring all the worshipped Gods from the village temples and shrines to the communal house where various rituals are performed, including the procession in honour of Saint Mother Thien Y A Na. The procession takes place at night on the Perfume River, which shines with a myriad of lights. The procession ivolves a long line of boats bound together into bigger rafts.
The Hon Chen Temple Festival includes a performance filled with imperial characters. Actors dressed in clothes with splendid turbans and tunics look like princes and princesses of the Nguyen dynasty. These shows take place in the natural settings of mountains, hills, and rivers. This Antique Museum of Nature shows flags, fans, hammocks, umbrellas, weapons, and offerings.
For a long time, Vietnam and some other Asian countries who follow the rite of worshipping the Moon Genie, welcome the Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. This is the time when the moon is full, the farm work is at rest, and the weather is cool and fresh. Apart from the Lunar New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival is the most impressive event for the Vietnamese, particularly the children. There is no other event in the year other than this festival that provides them with as much entertainment, toys, cakes, candies, and fruit.
About half a month before the event, various kinds of colourful items, mostly cakes, candies and toys, are displayed for sale along the streets, in the shops and at the markets. Everyone, both domestic and foreign, is eager to go either shopping or sight-seeing. On the festive day, some families cook outstanding food to offer their ancestors during the daytime. In the evening, the mid-autumn festive party is prepared with cakes, candies and fruits. Cakes are various, but a "must" is the banh deo (glutinous-rice dumplings) and banh nuong (cakes) in the shape of the moon and fish. Fruit , including longans, simmons, bananas, grapefruits, etc., are also abundant and diverse.
The Festival is exceptionally interesting for the children who play happily with the bright new toys. The toys are made from various different forms: the lion lead, the animal in folk tales and stories. The lanterns are colourful and of various kinds, such as the rabbit, the carp, etc. Besides traditional carton paper toys, plastic and bamboo plates, ships, tanks, etc. made of plastics with batteries and having remote controls are also on sale. This is understandable due to the economic improvements of the people. Whether organized in the city or countryside, the preserved tradition of the Mid-Autumn Festival is reflected in the way the children play games such as seek-and-hide, lion dancing, lantern marching, etc.
The welcome-the-moon party in the evening is a good opportunity for the children not only to enjoy the food, but also to learn more from their grandparents and parents. They are told how to prepare the party in the most attractive way. To decorate the party, there is always a "doctor" made of paper or dough, which reminds the children of the high achievements to be obtained in their studies. The time to start enjoying the party is solemnly shared by the whole family and becomes the most sacred moment of the Mid-Autumn Festival. In the bright moonlight, clear sky and fresh environment, everybody is relaxed with a pure and detached joy.
Lion dances are also thought to ensure good fortune. Accompanied by gongs and bells, a man in a huge lion mask is followed by a train of children who carry a long cloth tail. This dance is based on a legend about an old woman who was caught by a lion on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival. She asked the lion to allow her to attend the evening's festivities, promised to return the next day and accepted her fate. The lion agreed and the woman joined her neighbors in celebration. Come morning, she remembered her predicament and began to cry, at which time the gods intervened and sent a magical snake to save her. The dance is a recreation of the fight between the snake and the gullible hon.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Sept 12, 2012 Sept 30.
DOSON BUFFALO FIGHTING FESTIVAL
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 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.
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Sept 06, 2012 Sept 24.
KIEP BAC 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 15th to 20th day of the 8th lunar month.
A pilgrimage to the Kiep Bac Temple Festival has been deemed a centuries old Vietnamese custom honouring 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
Starting Dates in Western Calendar 2011 Sept 12, 2012 Sept 30.