14:10 | 09/03/2015 Society
In Vietnam, festivals are usually held in the spring. They each have their own characteristics and values, but are always directed towards a sacred entity enshrined as national heroes who fight foreign invaders, are founders of traditional trades, and who kill wild beasts to protect the people.
Here are some festivals held in the north with a sporting spirit.
1. Thuy Linh Ball Scrambling Festival
Location: Thuy Linh Village, Linh Nam Ward, Hoang Mai District, Hanoi.
Time: The afternoon of the 4th, 5th, 6th days of the first lunar month
The festival is held to commemorate Linh Lang Highest Royal, who is the fourth son of King Ly Thanh Tong.
This unique, centuries-old sporting event demonstrates the strength, intelligence and resilience of the players.
People of different ages can play the game. Four teams of two play in each game. Each team’s members wear colored belts that match one of the colored flags planted in holes at the four corners of the 300 square meter yard.
The teams compete to bring the ball which is made from jack-fruit wood to their respective flag-hole.
They receive a small prize each time they bring the ball to their flag, and a big prize for bringing it back three consecutive times.
2. Mud Wrestling Festival of Van Village
Location: Village of Yen Vien, Van Ha Commune, Viet Yen District, Bac Giang Province
Time: Once every two years, on the 12th, 13th and 14th of the fourth lunar month.
The festival was restored in 2002 after many years of interruption.
The festival typically lasts for three days, and the final day is always the most crowded and exciting. Historical Chua Van Temple is the place where the festival takes place. The wrestling field is the yard in front of the temple where the worshiping normally occurs. The 200m² yard is filled with liquid mud. At two ends of the yard, two holes 80cm deep and 50cm wide are dug for the goals.
Each team consists of eight young men wearing only loincloths. The participants from both teams fight for a wooden ball, with a diameter of 40cm, and try to score by pushing the ball into the goal of their opponents.
The wooden ball weighs about 20kg, bigger than a football, and is kept carefully in the back chamber of the temple. It is taken out once every two years, only for the festival.
On the day of the final, the temple’s yard is fully packed with villagers and tourists. The entire audience is covered in mud but they are all happy. For them, the mud is a symbol of good luck.
Water and liquid mud comes up to the ankles of the wrestlers. The match starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
The Mud Wrestling Festival in Van Village has existed since the Ly dynasty, when Ly Nam De fought against the Luong invaders (from what is present-day China).
Legend has it that during this period, four generals - Truong Hong, Truong Hat, Truong Lung and Truong Lay- defeated devils in a wrestling match in a swamp and won the devils’ hearts doing so.
After the four generals’ deaths, villagers built a temple to worship them. The title of Saint Tam Giang was bestowed upon the eldest one.
Every year, during the fourth or eighth month on the Lunar Calendar, Yen Vien Village holds the Mud Wrestling festival and parade to pay respect to Saint Tam Giang. After many years of interruptions, the festival was brought back to life in 2002.
3. Mai Dong Wrestling Festival
Location: Mai Dong Village’s communal house, Hoang Mai District, Hanoi.
Time: 4th, 5th and 6th of the first lunar month
The wrestlers mainly come from Bac Ninh Province and Hanoi’s districts of Tu Liem and Thanh Tri.
The annual event commemorates Nguyen Tam Trinh, the famous general who taught the village’s residents to wrestle and encouraged young men to participate in the Trung Sisters' Uprising in 40 AD.
4. Dong Ky Festival
Location: Dong Ky village’s communal house, Dong Ky Ward, Bac Ninh City, Bac Ninh Province.
Time: The 4th day of the lunar year.
Dong Ky Festival consists of many interesting activities like wrestling, cock fighting, human chess, tug of war and others.
The most exciting part of the festival is the procession of Ong Dam (generals). Ong Dam is carried on the shoulders of young boys. Ong Dam makes dance movements to encourage the spirit of soldiers and to say goodbye to the people before going to the battlefield.
5. Phet Hien Quan Festival
Location: Hien Quan Commune (ancient name is Song Quan) in Tam Nong District, Phu Tho Province
Time: 12th and 13th day of the lunar year
This is a festival to give tribute and honor the merit of Thieu Hoa, a female general and princess.
It is said that Princess Thieu Hoa – Hien Quan came to Phuc Thanh pagoda when she was 16. Knowing that Trung Trac raised an army to start a revolution, Thieu Hoa gathered a group of 500 soldiers practicing and playing the game of throwing harpoons and came to Hat Mon to join the army of Hai Ba Trung.
She was given the title “Dong cung tuong quan” (General of the East Part) to lead the army to Luy Lau and fight To Dinh.
When the enemy was defeated, Trung Vuong praised the generals but Thieu Hoa wasn’t rewarded to be the official in the court. However, she was asked to return to the village. Trung Vuong granted the Song Quan commune (current Hien Quan) the status of a hamlet under her rule.
A year later, Thieu Hoa passed away, and people built the temple to worship her. Trung Vuong granted her the title of “Princess supporting the nation” (Phu Quoc Cong Chua).n the 12th and 13th of first lunar month, people organize Hoi Phet to pay tribute to her merit.
In Hoi Phet Hien quan, after the offering in Thieu Hoa temple, the phet (a red ball) is brought to the fixed area.
On the way, the phet is covered by a parasol and the strong women surround it to protect it. Then it is put in a hole under the sand and thrown by a stake for people to rush to catch.
There are hundreds of strong men trying to catch it in the hope of having luck for their family and even village, so the competition of catching is stiff.
The festival of catching Phet in Hien Quan attracts many people.
6. Ninh Hiep Wrestling Festival
Place: Nanh Village, Ninh Hiep Commune, Gia Lam District, Hanoi.
Time: the 18th day of the first lunar month.
Objects of worship: Madam Ly Nhu Thai Lao, the founder of Vietnamese traditional medicine (based on medicinal herbs).
Characteristics: Incense offering ceremony. People come to the festival to worship and ask for traditional recipes and to watch the wrestling competition.
Source VOV News