Boat race declared national cultural heritage

14:45 | 24/05/2018 Culture & Art

(VEN) - The centuries-old, three-day Dam boat racing festival, a colorful event held every five years in the capital city of Hanoi, drew 150 rowers this year and was proclaimed a national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

boat race declared national cultural heritage

The festival takes place every five years in Dam Village, a flower-growing area, in Hanoi’s Bac Tu Liem District. Its organizers bill it as an event promoting community and collective spirit and solidarity, as well as a sense of discipline among rowers, and an opportunity to develop flexibility and endurance.

The festival is held from the ninth to the 11th day of the third lunar month (April 23-25 this year) to commemorate tutelary god Bach Hac Tam Giang, a general who had three times helped the 18th Hung king defeat foreign invaders.

Until 1994, the Dam boat racing festival took place annually on Nhue River’s Thuy Giang branch. Nowadays, the race is held on the Thuy Giang River, along a one-kilometer section of the river called Dam Lagoon.

Some 150 rowers in six dragon boats take part. Each boat has 25 rowers, including one who steers and one who bails out the water. The teams dedicate a month to training before the competition.

Before taking part in the competition, the rowers, in uniforms of yellow, red and blue, offer incense at the communal house and wash their hands. Each crew places different sacred objects on the bows of their boat. Crowds gather along banks of the river to watch the competition. Local fans cheer the rowers by banging on drums.

In addition to various worship rituals and processions, the festival includes various activities, including a release of doves, contests of human chess and cock fighting, and a fireworks display at the end.

The chairman of the Bac Tu Liem District People's Committee, Do Manh Tuan, said the Dam boat racing festival with its outstanding cultural values and great tourism development potential needs to be promoted and properly exploited to serve socioeconomic development in the district. He spoke at the April 23 ceremony recognizing the Dam boat racing festival as a national cultural heritage.

Thanh Tam