Spring Festival – a Special Cultural Feature of Vinh Phuc Province

18/12/2013

Vinh Phuc Province - a land of reach cultural tradition, there are special festival with its own hallmark. The following are the festivals organized in the New Year days.

Fighting over the Phet

Note: “Phet” is a ball like but made of wood. It is round and  polish to such an extent that it is slippery.

One of the festival arousing the determination will to defeat the enemy, not to be the slave  of Vinh Phuc people is Robbing Phet (i.e Ball) in Ban Gian Commune, Lap Thach District. Legend has it that Hung Dao King on the way to carry out the 3rd war against the Mongolian troops, he stopped in Ban Gian Commune to set up a platform to cult Gods supporting him in this war. He got a big victory in this battle. Therefore the people here Ban Gian people organizes the Robbing Phet  on January 7th every year (Lunar year) with a purpose of arousing the solidarity, the pride of the nation and also to memorize the victory of Hung Dao King. Through the rise and the fall of the history, Ban Gian people still keep and develop this festival as a Great Spirit value.

Every year, the Hamlet leaders, the village elders and the commune authorities have a meeting for festival preparation before the festival coming. The offerings, in any way, must have rice-pie, steam capon. The villagers contribute by money, rice the together prepare the offerings, pounding the rice pie. In the morning of January 7th, they gather and arrange the offerings in the palanquin to carry to the pagoda.

After the worship comes to the festival. The festival has many eventful activities such as volleyball, playing chess, going on viaduct, catching eel, trapeze etc…but the most attractive event is “robbing Phet” game. After finishing the cult to tutelary God of the village, the village elders bring the Phet from the ancestral altar and put it in the palanquin to the yard. After three rolls of drum finished, the Phet is brought to the middle of the yard for the people to rob. A healthy, reputable Superior of the village holds a flag and non-stop flag waving. He follow the Phet running and handle the unexpected event happened. The crowd whirls to the Phet. Everyone tries to rob the Phet but quite difficult. The Phet is round, smooth and slippery. Embracing and holding it among the crowd struggling for it is difficult. Only the person who is strong and skilled can keeps the Phet and rewarded. After another three drum rolls, the last person who keeps the Phet shall bring it into the pagoda to receive prize. People concept that who seize the Phet shall be very lucky in a new year and has a son born. That is why most of the people know they can not seize the Phet but try hard to touch it once.

Buffalo Fighting Festival-A Beauty of Sporting Spirit

Every year, on January 16th  Lunar month, tourists from everywhere go to Hai Luu Commune, Song Lo District to enjoy a buffalo fighting festival. Legend has it that, Hai Luu buffalo fighting came into being since the second century BC. At that time, Han dynasty invades Viet Nam, Chao dynasty crumbled. Prime Minister of Chao dynasty at the time is Lu Gia has to pull back his troop to Hai Luu for re-structure to fight against the enemy. After each battle, Lu Gia organized a buffalo fighting in order to increase the troop’s fighting spirit. After the game, the buffalo shall be slaughter to give feast to the troops. After Lu Gia died, Hai Luu people elevated him to the status of the tutelary God of the village and the buffalo fighting festival came out from that time. This festival was restored in 2002 after so many years absence.

Specific characteristic lies in the fact that the “buffalo fighter” is reared and drilled by a group people (normally a inter-hamlets, a clan, youth union, veterans or farmers’ union). Every year, right in July or August these groups contribute money and go to the provinces of Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Lai Chau etc…to look for the strong buffaloes but have countenance to buy. The bought buffalo shall assign to a family of prestige, experience, peaceful living and devotion children to rear. The buffalo shall be reared about a half year then led to a fighting arena. After finishing the fight, the winner or the losers are slaughtered. According to the folk, the hamlet has “winner buffalo” the hamlet will meet much lucky, people there are healthy, abundant crop.

According to the Organizing Committee, there are 28 fighting buffaloes divided by 14 pairs for the qualifying fight this year. Seven winning pairs shall fight the second round to rank the first, the second and the third. At the time writing this material, everything for fighting such as the decorative main entrance, the stand, and the slaughter and sale area is well prepared.  In addition, the slogans, ribbon, banner and loudspeaker system are also available. Everything is ready for the buffalo fighting – a big event.

Long Tong Festival of Cao Lan Minority

Long Tong Festival or another name called Taking to the rice field festival is a special cultural characteristic of Cao Lan minority people. This festival is maintained generation after generation by Cao Lan people living in Quang Yen Commune, Song Lo District. This festival is to express their wishes of a year of the propitious weather and good crop. Every year, after Tet Festival, Cao Lan people in Quang Yen Commune hurry to get ready for a new cultivation year and this festival is the first sign of the production year. Several days before the festival, the elders of the commune organize a meeting to discuss and assign main task and responsibility. The younger prepare their dresses, working tool. The girl is chartering to sew by hand or to hand-knit or weave a ball to kick and wrap up cakes in leaves and food for the festival.

The first part of the festival is to carry a thurible and offerings to a village pagoda to cult for favourable weather, abundant crop and prosperity. After ending the prayer in writing, the sorcerer will head the people to the rice field and support a strong young person to plough the first furrow. It also opens a new production year with the witness of the commune people. Next is a festival part. In this part, there are the items as performance, throwing ball, dragging, shooting bow …drawing attention from the old to the young. According to Mr. Tran Van Khoi, head of Dong Gang hamlet, Quang Yen Commune, in 2013 the hamlet organizes the festival with rather small scale, mainly to serve the internal people in the hamlet but still keeps full of rites as required by the customs and manners.

Spring comes and lets mix with the people in the festival days of Cao Lan to feel, to absorb the deep human culture of the activity bearing the community meaning and the thirsty of the people in the agreement between the heaven and the earth, the life and the death wishing for all things productive and well-off.

   Thu Hạnh

 

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