The lunar year festival, or Tet Nguyen Dan, is the largest festival to take place every year in Vietnam. It starts on the first day of the lunar year and lasts for entire week.
Tet is, according to Vietnamese traditional customs, a family-oriented celebration. The most sacred moment is at midnight on Tet Eve, when it is time to bid farewell to the past year and to welcome the New Year. It is also the occasion for people in every house hold to light incense in remembrance of their late relatives, pluck the plant buds, invite the first New Year’s visitor, and toast to each other.
The lunar year festival is the occasion for family members to meet each other. Tet is also the time when every house hold cooks traditional dishes, such a rice cake, a cake made from of sticky rice filled with bean paste and pork meat. The Lunar New Year festival is the most sacred celebration in Vietnam during which people wish each other health and happiness
Sequence of the Tet Celebration
Do it right. Here's a step-by-step sequence of the Tet Celebration
During the week before Tet, some families visit the graves of parents and grandparents. Fresh earth is placed on top, weeds removed from around it and incense is burnt to invoke the souls of the dead from the other world to return to visit the family home.
The Kitchen God (Ong Tao or Mandarin Tao) is also called the Hearth God, the Stove God or the Household God. This god who was privy to the family's most private business and intimate secrets for the ending year, returns to Heaven to make his report to the Jade Emperor. This report includes the year's activities of the household in which he has lived. On the 23rd day of the 12th month, a farewell and thank you dinner is given to the Kitchen God by the household. The Kitchen God will need a week for his mission to Heaven.
Folklore has made the spirit of the hearth into a picturesque character, a buffoon who is the butt of crude jokes. Although he is a messenger of the Jade Emperor in Heaven, he is depicted as so poor as to be unable to afford much clothing. He wears an important mandarin hat but goes about with bare legs because he has scorched his pants in the hearth fire. Another version tells that he was in such a rush to get back to Heaven that he forgot his pants and ascended in only his underwear. Efforts must be made to put him in a proper mood to secure a favorable report to the Jade Emperor of the family's activities. Offerings are made to him. These gifts certainly aim at influencing the outcome of the report. But no one considers such gifts to be crass bribery. Such pleasantries merely sweeten the god's way, as perhaps cookies placed by the fireplace will please Santa Claus, who might be tired from delivering so many gifts on Christmas night.
The paper carps, horses and clothing (hats, robes and boots) will be burned by the family and thus transformed into a spiritual essence usable by Ong Tao in the world beyond. Like Santa Claus, the Kitchen God is loved and respected. Both have the capacity to bring fortune and happiness into the home depending on the previous year's behavior. Although beliefs about the Kitchen God have changed over the years, he remains an important figure in the rich texture of Vietnamese New Year. The Kitchen God travels on the back of a brightly colored and powerful paper horse or sometimes a grand bird with great wings, such as a crane. Or he might ride on a carp with golden scales. Paper images of these vehicles are purchased at Tet or a living specimen of fish is bought and later set free. The day of his departure is marked by the calls of fishmongers from the countryside carrying baskets of fish hanging from their shoulder poles and calling "Fish for sale, fine mounts for the Household Gods to make their ride!" Live fish held in tanks of water and plastic bags are released into ponds, lakes, rivers and streams to impress the god with the kindness of the household. In Hanoi, the Sword Lake is a favorite spot for releasing Ong Tao's fish-vehicle. In some cases, three fish are released to account for the possibility that one must please all three Hearth Gods.
Most frequently we hear of only the Kitchen God, but many legends support the trinity of Kitchen Gods. Ong Tao represents the blending of all three.
In the old days, and still in some countryside homes, cooking occurs over clay tripods. Three stones were all that was needed to hold up the pot over the fire. Few people spend time thinking about the nature of the Kitchen Gods or the specific meaning of the items that are associated with them. The three Hearth Gods are represented at Tet by three hats and shops sell sets of three miniature paper hats: two men's hats and one woman's. These are burned as offerings to Ong Tao. The God will also need a new pair of boots to wear as he travels to Heaven. Two favorite gifts for the triad of household deities are gold and wine.
In the central part of Vietnam, cooking tripods or blocks that make up the family hearth, even if they are still usable, are ritually discarded when the God leaves. One week later, new blocks will greet his return or the arrival of his replacement assigned by the Jade Emperor.
After the Kitchen God has left, preparations for the New Year festivities begin in earnest. The week before New Year's Eve is a period of Tat Nien. Tat Nien (literally meaning the end or 'to extinguish the year') is the celebration of the last session of a period, such as the last class of school, the last bus home, the last day in the office, even the last bath, all with parties and great ceremony. There is a festive holiday atmosphere before New Year's Eve with dragon dances.
Some families set up a Tet tree in the week before New Year's Eve. The Tet tree called cay neu, is a bamboo pole stripped of most of its leaves except for a bunch at the very top. The Tet tree has Taoist origins and holds talismanic objects that clang in the breeze to attract good spirits and repel evil ones. On the very top, they frequently place a paper symbol of yin and yang, the two principal forces of the universe. Sometimes a colorful paper carp flag will fly from the top. The carp (or sometimes a horse) is the vehicle on which the Hearth God travels to make his report. This tree is more common in the countryside now than in the city. It is ceremonially removed after the seventh day of Tet.
Sweeping and scrubbing is done in advance as tradition discourages cleaning during the holiday itself. During this time, shops and restaurants close while the cleaning spree proceeds in earnest. On hands and knees, the floors will be scrubbed; bronze will be polished to a brand new finish. Closets will be ransacked for old clothes to be tossed out. Shoppers swarm the streets at temporary Tet stalls that have sprung up, lit with tiny gaily-flashing lights. Everything needed for the celebration from food to decorations is at hand and in abundance at these Tet markets.
Two items required for the proper enjoyment of Tet are flowering branches and the kumquat bush. For the sale of these and other flowers and plants, a lively flower market is held in the center of the ancient quarter of Hanoi on Hang Luoc Street. A massive flower market was organized on Nguyen Hue Street in Ho Chi Minh City and attracts crowds who walk up and down the street admiring the flowers, meeting old friends and making new ones. However, this was moved out of the center in 1996. Throughout the country on bicycles of roving vendors, flowers create great splashes of color. In the south, the bright golden yellow branches of the mai apricot are seen everywhere. In the north, the soft rose-colored dao peach flowers decorate homes and offices. A truck driver will adorn his truck with a dao branch to cheer him on a long-distance run.
Miniature kumquat bushes about two or three feet tall are carefully selected and prominently displayed. To carefully choose a kumquat bush, the buyer must pay attention to the symmetrical shape, to the leaves and to the color and shape of the fruit. The bushes have been precisely pruned to display ripe deep orange fruits with smooth clear thin skin shining like little suns or gold coins on the first day. Other fruits must still be green to ripen later. This represents the wish that wealth will come to you now and in the future. The leaves must be thick and dark green with some light green sprouts. The fruits represent the grandparents, the flowers represent parents, the buds represent children and the light green leaves represent grandchildren. The tree thus symbolizes many generations. Guests will caress the light green leaves about to sprout and compliment the discerning host who chose so carefully. The Sino-Viet pronunciation of the word for orange sounds like the word for wealth and the tangerines signify good luck.
Crowds of shoppers at the markets become thicker and more frantic each night, holding up traffic as they jostle each other to reach the counters with the best buys. Prices are a bit higher, but then thriftiness is not considered a virtue at Tet. Everyone is wishing each other Chuc Mung Nam Moi!
One must purchase the sugared fruits, banh chung and the colorful decorations before the afternoon of Tet.
While shoppers roam the streets, banh chung patties wrapped in leaves are steaming in giant vats. The outside has taken on a lovely light green tinge after being boiled inside a wrapper of leaves. Banh chung in the north is a square patty measuring seven inches and two inches thick, filled with shreds of fatty pork surrounded by a dense mixture of sticky rice and mashed ground green beans. In the south, a similar dish is cylindrical. It is given as a gift at this time of year and has a similar long life and social significance as the western Christmas fruitcake. These are frequently called sticky rice cakes, but are unlike sweet cakes in the western sense. There is however, a sweet version made without meat but with sugar added called banh ngot (sweet rice patty).
Suddenly, as if by command of some magic wand, the spree of activity, the light, the noise, all vanishes. By early evening, markets and shops are abandoned. Shops, stalls and restaurants are locked leaving a notice hung on the door announcing the date of reopening. Special dishes must be completed that are expected to serve the family and its guests for the first three days of the new year. People desert the outer world and disappear on the requisite trip to their home villages and inside their homes for intimate family celebrations
As midnight approaches, all eyes maintain a close look on clocks and watches. The Giao Thua ritual occurs at that most sacred moment in time. At midnight on the last day of the year, every Vietnamese family whispers similar fervent prayers. Bells ring and drums beat in temples. The old year gives over its mandate to the New Year. The words Giao Thua (Giao means to give and Thua means to receive) mean a passing on or a receiving and handing down of life, and the recognition of that gift by the present generation. It marks the magical transition time from one year to another. Those who practice Buddhism will pray in the pagoda.
In the Gia Tien (family ancestor) ritual or calling of the ancestors, invitations are extended to the deceased relatives to visit for a few days in the world of the living family. They are lured home and kept happy until they leave. The head of the household lights incense and folds hands at heart level in the position of prayer. The prayer may proceed as follows: "In the year of&. And the date of&. Make these offerings and invite all of our ancestors to join in eating Tet with us."
The past generations are invited to share the family's joys and concerns to enjoy a meal with the living, to catch up on the family news and to lavish riches and honors on their descendants.
"I pray to the Heavenly King, the Jade Emperor, to his assistants and to the Earth God and the guardian spirit and to any other spirits present. On behalf of the &family, we offer you incense, gold and silver, fruit and flowers, alcohol and fixings for the betel quid. We are all here to make these offerings so that the next year will be free of disasters and harmful occurrences and that the family will prosper. Please bless us all, young and old, with happiness, prosperity and long life. (Here he might mention some events of the past year such as the birth of a child, someone's new employment or the successful entrance of a child into a good school). Please forgive us any transgressions we may have unknowingly committed against you or others."
Bowing motions, called Le, are performed at least three times and the ceremony ends when all have prostrated themselves (or in more modern families, folded hands and prayed) before the altar. After the "money for the dead" and other paper gifts are burnt in the courtyard, the family watches the ashes dance away on warm currents of air, a sign that the dead have received their gifts. The spiritual presence of the ancestors will be palpable during the days of Tet.
In recent times, a new tradition has evolved to celebrate the important evening of the new year. Those who are not at home praying at this momentous time may be socializing with friends. In the cities, there will be community fireworks displays that will draw the young from their homes into the square or park. Although firecrackers are now illegal in Vietnam, some kind of loud noises will be made. It can be the banging of cans, the use of electronic popping firecrackers or human voices whooping it up. People will break off branches and twigs that contain newly sprouted leaves to bring a sense of freshness and vitality into their home. This follows a Buddhist tradition of bringing fresh new leaves and "fortune bearing buds" into the home from the pagoda
First Morning or Head Day
is reserved for the nuclear family, that is, the husband's household. Immediate family members get together and celebrate with the husband's parents. A younger brother, if the parents are not alive, will visit his older sibling. Faraway sons and daughters journey to be with their parents on this day. Children anticipate a ritual called Mung Tuoi, or the well wishing on the achievement of one more year to one's life. With both arms folded in front of their chest in respect, they thank their grandparents for their birth and upbringing.
Reciprocally, the grandparents will impart words of advice or wisdom to their grandchildren, encouraging them to study seriously, to live in harmony with others. The promises made by the children are similar to New Year's resolutions made during the western New Year. Adults will make silent promises to themselves to improve their lives, habits and relationships in the coming year. The children accept small gifts, usually crisp bills. Ideally, part of the gifts will be saved for future "investment," and part spent for Tet amusements. The words on the little red envelope in which the bill may be tucked read: Respectful wishes for the New Year. When there was a king ruling Vietnam, the mandarins of the royal court formally wished the King and Queen, "Happiness as vast as the southern sea; longevity as lasting as the southern mountains." Each trade and professional guild in Vietnam has a founder or guardian spirit and on this or one of the next several days, the craft workers will make offerings to their guild ancestor.
The family displays the offerings of food on the altar table for the first meal for the ancestors since they have returned to the world of the living. The head of the family, dressed in fresh clothes, steps respectfully in front of the family altar and presents the offerings of food, liquor, cigarettes, betel fixings, flowers and paper gold and silver. He lights three sticks of incense, kneels, joins hands in front of his chest, bows his head and prays. The names of the deceased of the family up to the fifth generation are whispered as they are invited to participate in the feast prepared for them.
After the ceremony, the entire family sits down to enjoy the meal typically consisting of steamed chicken, bamboo shoot soup, banh chung and fresh fruits. They reminisce with their ancestors.
The Vietnamese do not say "celebrate" when speaking of Tet; the words "to eat" are used as in the expression, "Will you eat Tet with your family?" or "Where will you eat Tet this year?" It does not refer to the filling of one's stomach, although in the old days, when hunger was a constant problem, Tet time was a time of plenty during which one could eat one's full. "To eat" here means more to be nourished by, or to partake in the mutual communion with others, a spiritual eating or being nourished.
There is a Vietnamese saying related to ancestor worship: "Trees have roots; water has a source; when drinking from the spring, one must remember the source." Thanks are offered to those ancestors who labored long ago to dig irrigation channels and remove mountains for this generation to have an easier life. The present is only one link in the cycle of coming back to the past as one looks to the future
The second day
of Tet is for visiting the wife's family and close friends. Some shops have opened and a few lottery stands are busy selling chances to people who feel lucky. Everyone is out on the street parading around in their new clothes
On the third day
of Tet, the circle of connections becomes larger and is extended to the broader community outside the family by visits to teachers, bosses or a helpful physician. The Vietnamese visit teachers and physicians although long out of school and long cured of their illness. This may be the time to have one's fortune told to see what the coming year will bring. These days in Vietnam, there are fortunetellers using computer software. People are also especially interested in the significance of their first dream of the new year.
The evening of the third day marks the departure of the ancestors by burning votive objects such as gold and silver, for them to take with them on their journey back to Heaven.
Now the connections to the world beyond the family can take place. The non-family member who will be the first visitor is carefully chosen. The "first footer" is an auspicious guest who is considered to be good luck for the family. The first non-family visitor to the house brings in the year's luck. This figure's karma will charm the household for the entire year and determine the luck of the family. It is customary to invite a respected person to visit at that time, so that this turn of luck is not left to fate. This person, whose aura is believed capable of promoting the fortune of the household in the following year, is usually someone healthy, successful and prosperous. Some Vietnamese lock their doors to all chance visitors until after the visit of the chosen "first footer."
On the fourth day,
banks and shops reopen. Transactions, although slower, will be conducted more cheerfully than usual. Offices open and work resumes. Careful attention is paid to the resumption of activities. The first outing is the first time in the New Year that a family leaves their home. A propitious time is chosen in advance for this outing and one sometimes asks the advice of fortunetellers.
Formerly, scholars initiated their new brushes and paper with a small ceremony with the wearing of new clothes. This also requires an auspicious hour. The theme of the proverb or poem is considered carefully and newly purchased high-grade paper was used. Today's students are less formal in their initiation rites, but most enjoy a new pen and a fresh notebook for the New Year. Everyone determines to do what he or she can to help fate along to make the next year most successful.
In the countryside, there are rituals to enliven the land out of its winter's rest. The Rites of Dong Tho activate the soil to bring it alive from its sacred rest. When there was a king in Vietnam, he symbolically initiated the harrowing of the first furrow of the planting season in a royal rite.
A hundred years ago, on Hang Buom Street, a ceremony was performed right after Tet called the Beating of the Spring Ox. This ceremony initiated the breaking open of the agricultural land and chased away the winter cold. A ceramic image of the ox was beaten with sticks until it broke into pieces. Everyone scramble to grab and take home a piece of the sacred ox
On the fifteenth day
of Tet (called Ram Thang Gieng), the first full moon, there are ceremonies in Buddhist temples. This is considered the most auspicious day of the Buddhist year. "Paying homage to Buddha all year long is not as effective as praying on the 15th day of the first lunar month." The devout flock into pagodas, their eyes stinging with the blue haze of incense. After prayers, shared blessed offerings from the temple keeper are stuffed into bags carried with them for that purpose. Over the years, this Buddhist sacred day has transformed into a holiday of other cults.
It is also called Tet Trang Nguyen or the feast of the first laureate. There is a legend associated with its beginnings: the emperor once staged a banquet on the full moon to which the most prominent scholars of the kingdom were invited. They drank exquisite liquor and each man composed a formal poem on a theme chosen by the emperor. On that day, many families celebrate Tet all over again by eating banh chung.
This is also called the Little New Year or full moon New Year and celebrated by farmers following an indigenous practice of welcoming Spring at the first full moon. Later, it became infused with Buddhist meanings.
The Vietnamese traditionally celebrated Tet from the fifteenth day of the twelfth month to the fifteenth day of the first month
Trung Nguyen Festival
The Trung Nguyen Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month.
Trung Nguyen Festival, also called "xa toi vong nhan" (forgive the loss souls), originates from Buddhism's Vu Lan Festival which is aimed at saving and freeing souls from sufferings. It is believed that criminals in hell are released on lunar July 15th so that people usually prepare plain gruel, popcorns, votive papers, etc. to offer them. They also place offerings in temples, communal houses’ yards, banyan tree’s foot for forsake spirits. After worshipping, the offerings are given to children and poor people and votive papers are burned to send to the world of the death.
Trung Nguyen Festival is taken place in every family and pagoda
Killing the Inner Insect Festival
This festival take place on 5th day of the fifth lunar month in every house of the Kinh (Viet).
This is the middle year festival for the prevention of disease and ward off evil spirits (the day of changing weather from spring to summer, this is the time easy to get pathogen). On the day of "killing inner insects”, every one has to get up early, eat fermented sticky and fruits. The worshiping is held at noon, hour of Ngo
The Mid-Autumn Festival
Every year, on the 15th day of the 8th month in lunar calendar, the children throughout the country in Vietnam are given permission by their parents to march in a procession and carry their lanterns, to eat the Mid-Autumn Festival cakes and to perform the dragon (unicorn) dance, oh, how great and uproarious they are!
This Festival is called "Mid-Autumn Festival" - or also called Children's Festival. Do you know why we have this special festival?
Actually, this tradition of celebrating the Mid-autumn Festival began since the Duong Minh Hoang era in China, at the beginning of the 8th century (713-755).
According to ancient manuscripts, on the eve of the 15th day in the 8th month, while the Emperor Duong and his mandarins gazed at the moon, the Emperor wished that if only he could visit the Palace on the Moon. A magician named Dieu Phap Thien (also known as La Cong Vien) offered to take the Emperor to the moon by performing a number of magic tricks.
Upon arriving at the Moon Palace, the Emperor Minh Hoang was welcomed by a Fairy God who prepared a banquet and entertained the Emperor Duong. There were hundreds of beautiful fairies wearing the thin silk gaudy clothes, each of them held a long white silk piece in hand, threw it into the air, danced, and sang in the court, this dance and song is called the Nghe Thuong Vu Y (Nghe Thuong Cloth Dance).
The Emperor enjoyed this dance very much. Since the Emperor had an aptitude for music, he showed a keen interest and admiration for the dance, while at the same time trying to memorize the fairy song and dance by heart. The Emperor wanted to bring this song and dance back to the Imperial Palace for entertainment.
At the end of that year, a Governor ruling over the Tay Luong Country brought with him a group of female dancers who performed the Ba-la-mon dance.
The Emperor discovered that this Ba-la-mon dancing style shared a lot of similarities to Nghe Thuong Vu Y dance and song. He combined the two songs and dances styles into one, and called it the Nghe Thuong Dance and Cloth Style.
Later, the mandarins adopted the Nghe Thuong Dance and Cloth style from their Emperor, took this song and dance style and gradually introduced it to everyone in their far ruling countries. The tradition of gazing at the moon, and watching the dance and song later became a traditional event on eve of the Mid-Autumn celebration.
The Mid-Autumn Festival spread throughout the neighboring countries and vassal kingdoms of China. The Vietnamese Annals did not reveal from what precise time the Mid-Autumn Festival tradition was introduced in the country. They only know that, for centuries, their ancestors have followed this tradition.
Starting from the beginning of August in lunar calendar, the markets are filling of nuances of Mid-Autumn Festival. Lanterns, moon cakes, white coconut cakes are sold everywhere in the splendidly lighted shops. The streets are full of people buying and those who wander at leisure all crowding and pushing one another in these festival-like days.
Besides the assorted paper lanterns, cakes, candies, there are toy animals made of rice dough, the dragon (unicorn) heads and faces of the Earth God made of paper are displayed everywhere in the markets. In the rich families, the mid-autumn banquet is made in order to show up their nubile girls' cooking abilities.
On the precisely 15th day of August, in the great cities, such as Hanoi, Hue, Saigon, there are the lion, dragon (unicorn) dances. This is a truly animated sight.
At the time when Vietnam was still under the French domination, the protectorate government did not want people gathering in crowds for fear of a revolt. The French government did not allow adults to organize the dragon and lion dances during the Mid-Autumn Festival, only children were allowed to participate. Since then, the Mid-Autumn Festival became the Children's Festival.
However, the adults meet their friends in small groups, sing songs, and recite poetry.
In many Western countries where the Vietnamese refugee children are living, there is a special festival day for children called Halloween. On this day, the children dress themselves up as sorcerers, supermen, monsters; they swarm in many bands, and scare people while asking for candies. What a fun sight!
However, Halloween seems very similar to the Vu-Lan day in Vietnam. According to ancient’s superstition, on the Vu Lan day, the spirits are released from Hell to the Land of the Living in order to have a good time. So, every family prepares to feast offering to the spirits. The offerings are then distributed to children and the poor people.
Living far away from our country, does any of you, children, at any time wish to come back one day to our freedom country, so that you can carry the lanterns while making a procession, eating cake and receiving gifts of celebration during the Mid-Autumn Festival together with the children who are still in our country?
We hope that this day will come very soon
Cold Goods Tet
Cold goods Tet or Tet han thuc is celebrated on 3rd day of the third lunar month in almost regions of the Viet.
Tet han thuc offers glutinous rice flour cakes stuffed with plum of brown sugar (banh troi), glutinous rice flour cakes stuffed with green bean paste (banh chay) to worship ancestors. Tet han thuc also is an occasion for people to visit and tidy the burial graves of relatives and have funs in spring
"Quan Ho" is a special folk song of Kinh Bac Province, now called Bac Ninh Province. The festival takes place on Lim Hill where the Lim Pagoda is located. This pagoda is where Mr. Hieu Trung Hau, the man who invented Quan Ho, is worshiped. The Lim Festival takes place every year on 13th day of the first lunar month. Visitors come to enjoy the festival and see the performances of "lien anh" and "lien chi". These are male and female farmers who sing different types of songs in the pagodas, on the hills, and in the boats. Besides this, visitors can come to the Lim Festival to enjoy the weaving competition of the Noi Due girls. They weave and sing Quan Ho songs at the same time. Like other religious festivals, the Lim Festival goes through all the ritual stages, from the procession to the worshiping ceremony, and includes other activities. The Lim Festival is a special cultural activity in the North. The festival celebrates the "Quan Ho" folk song which has become a part of the national culture and a typical folk song that is well loved in the Red River Delta region
Khau Vai Love Market Festival
The first day is for the ceremony to receive the great calendar. Moha Sang-Kran is considered a calendar which gives a detailed account of dates and festivals in a year and a forecast of rainfall so the villagers can foresee if they get a good or bad crop that year. On this day, at a selected hour no matter it is in the morning or afternoon, people take a bath and put on their best clothes in anticipation of the New Year. They take incense, lamps, flowers and fruits to a pagoda where they do the great calendar-receiving ceremony. At the pagoda, Moha Sang-Kran, put on a red-lacquered, gilded tray, is placed on a palanquin and carried three times round the main sanctuary. This rite is to welcome the New Year and wait for omens for a bad or good new year. Then the official ceremony is carried out inside the sanctuary. After that, every participant prays to the Buddha and chant prayers for a happy new year. Young males and females walk out to the pagoda yard and join in fun activities until late at night.
The second day is for the ceremony to offer boiled rice and heap up a sandy mountain. On this day, every Khmer family cooks rice and offers it to Buddhist monks at the pagoda in early morning and at noon. The monks chant prayers to thank those who make the food and bring it to their pagoda and say good luck to them.
On the afternoon the same day, people start to heap up a sandy mountain in search of happiness and luck. They make small mountains looking to eight directions and one in the middle which represent the universe. This custom originates from an age-old legend. It displays people’s aspirations for rain.
The third day is for the ceremony to wash the Buddha’s statue and Buddhist monks. After giving boiled rice to the monks in the morning, they continue to listen to Buddhist teachings. In the afternoon, they burn incense, offer sacrifices and use scented water to wash the statue in order to pay tribute and gratitude to the Buddha. This is also to get rid of the old year’s misfortunes and wish all the best for the New Year. The monks do a ceremony to pray for peace in the death’s souls. After that, the people return to their house and wash the Buddha’s statue at home. They offer dishes, confectionery and fruits to ask for happiness for their parents and grandparents and being forgiven for their mistakes made in the old year.
During these three days, Khmer people go to visit each other and wish good health, good luck and prosperity to each other. They also join in fun activities.
Chol Chnam Thmay festival shows Khmer people’s aspirations, like many others ethnic groups, to forget about the old year’s misfortunes and look for a better new year.
Each year, there is a market session on lunar March 27 (often falling on solar May), but it is not a farming produce trading market but a love market. The name and activities of the market have common things with love market in Sapa.
But what’s different is that Khau Vai is a love market for various ethnic minority groups from four mountainous districts in Dong Van Plateau and ethnic minority groups in communes adjacent to Bao Lam and Bao Loc districts of Cao Bang province.
Local senior people said that this love market dated back to 1919. Roads are now more accessible than the previous years, so more people come to the market. However, activities of the market are still rich in cultural identity.
A local myth tells the story of a young couple from different tribes who fell in love with each other. The girls belonged to the Giay group and the boy belonged to the Nung group. The girl was so beautiful that her tribe did not want to let her get married with a man from another tribe. Consequently, violent conflict arose between the two tribes.
One day, the boy witnessed an aggressive fight between the tribes as a result of their love. To stop the blood shed, the lovers sorrowfully decided to say goodbye. However, they made plans to meet once a year on that day, lunar March 27.
The place where they used to meet is Khau Vai, which thereafter became a meeting place for all of those in love.
In the market area, there are two temples called Ong and Ba (Mr and Mrs). A story tells that, once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl born in two different places of the Dong Van Plateau. The boy’s surname is Linh and the girl’s surname is Loc. They love each other very much despite being hindered by deep streams and high rock mountains.
Because their families prevented their marriage, they together came to Khau Vai, a prosperous land with rich plants which they could live on.
Although they did not have a child but they lived happily until they died. In honor of their merits in cultivating the wild land into a rich land, the local people built the two temples to worship them.
Therefore, on every lunar March 27, Khau Vai attracts couples of different ages, including those who seek their partners for the first time. However, most of them are those who love each other very much but cannot wed together because of many different reasons.
On the day when the market session takes place, it is likely that both the wife and her husband together go to the market but they look for their own partners to share emotions. If one of them has to stay at home, he or she is not jealous in love because the dating at the marketplace is really a faithful feeling exchange.
It can be said that the beauty of love is a basic factor to keep the existence of Khau Vai love market for such a long time.
With the assistance of Ha Giang Culture and Information Department, Meo Vac district and Khau Vai commune authorities hold the traditional love market of Khau Vai in order to promote cultural identity of ethnic minority groups in the locality.
The love market festival is held on lunar March 26 and 27 with the participation of a large number of locals. The festival features food and drink culture, song performances and folk games. Ethnic costumes, jewellery, ethnic musical instruments and culture and art publications are on display at the market, reflecting activities of the local people
Hung King Temple Festival
The festival begins with a palanquin procession performed by three villages of Co Tich, Vi Cuong and Trieu Phu. The procession carries bamboo elephants and wooden horses symbolizing the submission of animals to the Kings Hung and the wedding of the Mountain Genie and Princess Ngoc Hoa. Banh chung (square sticky rice cake) and banh giay (round sticky rice cake) are indispensable offerings in the procession in order to honor the merit of the Kings Hung who taught people to plant rice and to remind people of Lang Lieu who invented these cakes.
The worship service is held on the 10th day of the 3rd lunar month and commences with a flower ceremony with the participation of state representatives. Held in Thuong Temple, where the Kings Hung used to worship deities with full rituals, the ceremony is conducted with the traditional rituals representing the whole nation. During that time, the nha to Do Ngai guild performs singing and dancing to welcome visitors.
The children of the Kings Hung throughout the country converge on the temple to offer incense. The procession includes the state representatives, one hundred young men and women in traditional costumes symbolizing “children of the Dragon and Fairy” and pilgrims.
The procession marches are followed by a Xoan singing performance (a kind of folk song of Vinh - Phu region) in Thuong Temple, ca tru (a kind of classical opera) in Ha Temple, and other activities including bamboo swings, nem con (throwing a sacred ball through the ring), cham thau (beating bronze drum), dam duong (pounding rice).
Hung Temple Festival not only attracts visitors from all over the country because of its special traditional cultural activities, but it is also a sacred trip back in time to the origins of the Vietnamese nation. People usually show their love and pride of their homeland and ancestral land. This religious belief deeply imbedded in the minds of every Vietnamese citizen, regardless of where they originate
Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival
The Buffalo Fight in Do Son (Haiphong City) is officially held every year on the 9th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. There are, in fact, two rounds of elimination before the middle of the fifth month and 8th day of the sixth 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 worshiping 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, pair of buffaloes is 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 worshiping 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
Chu Dong Tu Festival
Chu Dong Tu is one of four immortal gods in the Vietnamese pantheon. The festival annually takes place from the 10th to the 12th day of the second lunar month at two temples, Da Hoa and Da Trach, in Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen Province.
Starting from Ha Noi, visitors can travel downstream on the Red River by boat or canoe, or go by motorbike along the dyke of the Red River for 20 km. During the festival, pilgrims in colorful dress converge on the two temples, Da Hoa and Da Trach At Da Hoa Temple
In the early morning of the 10th, the inhabitants of nine communes hold a long procession along the dyke of the Red River to Da Hoa Temple. Marching in the van of the procession is Hoang Trach Commune. Following are Dong Que, Bang Nha, Phu Thi, Phuc Trach, Thiet Tru, Nhan Thap, Da Hoa communes, and finally Me So Commune.
When the procession reaches the temple, palanquins and offerings are placed at a stipulated place. Then, the members of the procession and pilgrims begin the opening ceremony at the courtyard.
As the opening ceremony and incense presenting ceremony end, people participate in traditional games that take place during day and night At Da Trach Temple
In the morning of the 10th, residents of Da Trach, Ham Tu, Yen Phu, Dong Tao and Tu Dan communes, Khoai Chau District, Hung Yen Province hold a procession from Da Trach Temple to the Red River to get water.
The water procession is preceded by a 20 meter-long dragon. Thirty strong young men carry the dragon and dance in the rhythm of drumbeats, which makes the procession jubilant. Following are two rows of women in colorful dresses holding flags, gongs and drums, and parasols. Young women perform a dance with conical hats and castanets with coins stringed. Young men carry palanquins holding a jar, and a profusely decorated stick and conic hat - the two magic articles bestowed on Chu Dong Tu by the Buddha. Then come three palanquins containing the tablets of Chu Dong Tu and his two wives. The end is God of Carp palanquin " Be ngu than quan". Notable men in traditional dresses go after the procession.
When the procession arrives at the riverbank, the boats of Khoai Chau District sail downstream the Red River to meet the procession of Mai Dong Commune (Hung Yen Province), Khai Thai and Tu Nhien Communes (Ha Tay Province). They join into a long procession and row to middle of the river to get water. The procession brings water to the temple at 11.30 a.m and the opening ceremony begins.
After the water palanquin is placed in the temple, palanquins of gods are placed in the courtyard, then the dragon dancing group comes to the temple's door worship god; senh tien dance and conical hats dance are performed on Tien Bridge.
After the opening ceremony, various games and activities are organized such as wrestling, human chess, and traditional and religious dances
Huong Pagoda Festival
Approximately 70 kilometers southwest of Ha Noi, Huong Son boasts quite a few pagodas built in the Posterior Le Dynasty. Until the beginning of the 20th century, there have over 100 pagodas. Visitors can go to Huong Son via the Ha Dong - Van Dinh route.
Vietnamese or foreigners alike wish to come to Huong Son in springtime. Heading there tourists come to a magnificent land, a famous beauty spot in Vietnam.
Going boating in Yen Stream, visitors get a stunning view of the landscape in springtime. Here lies Ngu Nhac Mountain, there stand Hoi Bridge, Dun and Voi Phuc (Prostrating Elephant) mountains. Then come Thuyen Rong (Dragon Boat) and Con Phuong (Phoenix) mountains, not to mention various other mountains named after their shape like Ong Su (Buddhist Monk), Ba Vai (Buddhist nun), Mam Xoi (Tray of Sticky Rice), Trong (Drum), or Chieng (Gong).
At Trinh Temple visitors stop to burn incense and present to the Mountain Deity before going on their journey to Ba Cave. In front of the cave spreads a land with magnificent beauty. Leaving Ba Cave, tourists go to Tro Wharf, the starting point for the trekking up the mountain. Thien Tru Pagoda is the first destination. Known as the Kitchen of Heaven, it boasts Thien Thuy - a tower-like natural rock, and Vien Cong Tower an exquisite terracotta architectural structure dated back to the 17th century. On the right of the pagoda stands Tien Son Grotto, housing five statues carved out of stone and many stalactites and stalagmites which can be used as musical instruments.
To reach Huong Tich Grotto one go past a winding path paved with slabs of stone nature has smoothed. Alongside the path visitors has a chance to feast their eyes on stunning landscapes. In the 18th century, upon coming here Lord Trinh Sam had the words “The most beautiful grotto under the Southern sky” chiselled above the mouth of the grotto. Pushing into its belly, visitors get a spectacular view. Many stalactites and stalagmites are named after their shape: Rice Pile, Money Pile, Gold Tree, Silver Tree to name but a few. Inside there are statues of King’s Father, Queen, Avalokitesvara, and so on. Noteworthy is the Cuu Long structure with nine dragons flanking from above.
There are many interesting pagodas, caves and grottoes in Huong Son. Among them include Long Van, Tuyet Son, Hinh Bong, and so forth. The Ong Bay (Sung Sam) Cave, 2km from Long Van Pagoda, still retains traces of ancient people some tens of thousands of years ago.
Unlike any other places, Huong Pagoda harmonizes the characters of a Buddhist architectural complex with the impressive natural beauty. Coming here, tourists have chances to live in a boisterous atmosphere of a spring festival amidst beautiful landscape. They seem to be free from all tiredness and sorrow and come to pay respect to the compassionate Buddha
Thay Pagoda Festival
Tu Dao Hanh was a Buddhist monk in the Ly Dynasty. He had outstanding merits regarding the popularization of the religion, the treatment of diseases for people and the creation of many games original to Vietnam, including water puppetry. The Thay Pagoda Festival is held on the seventh day of the third lunar month in remembrance of his merits.
Several days prior to the festival, Buddhist followers and pilgrims far and near flock to the pagoda, further adding to the boisterous atmosphere of the festival. The Pagoda is cleaned and incenses, candles lit, bringing about a charming scene.
The statue bathing ritual takes place before the opening of the festival. Buddhist monks and the people participate in the ritual. Pieces of red cloth are used to clean the statues. Those standing around solemnly hold their hands in front of their chests, whispering Buddhist sutras. When the ritual ends, the used water, the holy water the Buddha bestows, will be scattered all over the pagoda in a wish for bumper crops and prosperous life. The cloths are also torn into smaller pieces to divide among the people as they are thought to have the power of warding off the evils. The rite of cleaning objects of worship comes after this statue bathing ritual.
The procession of Tu Dao Hanh’s worshiping tablet takes place on the 7th day of the third lunar month, with the participation of four villages Thuy Khue, Da Phuc, Sai Khe and Khanh Tan. Covering under a yellow cloth, the colour of the outfits worn by those having supernatural powers, the tablet is carried by four representatives from the four villages mentioned above. Each village carries its own tutelary god’s tablet. Noteworthy is that in the procession the tablet and white horse of Da Phuc must go ahead those of the Thuy Khue. Normally the procession comes to the pagoda at twilight.
At the pagoda the ritual of presenting offerings to Buddha is held in a solemn manner to the accompaniment of musical instruments. The offerings in various kinds and different colors are out into the altar, looking impressive in the smoke of incenses and candles. Wearing fine outfits, holding sticks to which are decorated with flowers, Buddhist monks chant Buddhist sutras while dancing to display the journey of mankind in striving for noble things.
Among fascinating games in Thay Pagoda Festival, water puppetry stands out. It is performed at the Thuy Dinh House in Long Tri pond in front of the pagoda. Tu Dao Hanh is said to be the founder of this artistic performance.
Going to Thay Pagoda Festival pilgrims have an opportunity to revere the relics imbued with the imprints of outstanding monks and men of the past
Ooc-Om-Bok Festival is a religious service that worships the moon deity of the Khmer minority group and prays for good luck, happiness, good weather and bumper crops. The festival is usually held when the dry season begins and rice are ripening on the fields.
The Moon-worshiping ceremony takes place on the evening of 14th of tenth lunar month before the moon goes to the top. The ceremony is held in the yards of the pagoda or of residents’ houses. People erect bamboo poles with a crossbar on which they decorate with flowers and leaves. Below is a table of offerings that include green rice flakes, potatoes, bananas, coconuts, grapefruits, oranges and cakes. People sit on the ground with crossed legs, clasping their hands before the altar and look up the Moon. An old master of ceremonies says his prayers, asks the moon deity to receive the offerings and bless people with the best.
After the ceremony, the elders ask the children of the house sit flatly on the ground with crossed legs before the altar. The elders then take a handful of green rice, feed each child and ask them what they wish while clapping their backs. If the children answer the question clearly and politely, all the best will come to them that year. After that, people enjoy the offerings together, and children play games or dance and sing in the moonlight. Anyone who visits the Khmer’s houses on this occasion will be tasted com dep (a kind of young sticky rice). At the pagodas of Khmer people, locals hold paper-lantern releasing into the sky and putting on the rivers. The custom of releasing flying lights and floating lights is believed to sweep away the darkness, impure and sadness from the village. Many traditional activities of the Khmer are organized on the evening of 14th
Leaving the Tomb Festival
Unlike other ethnic minorities in Vietnam, some groups in the Central Highlands, including Ê dê, Gia Rai, Ba Na do not have the practice of worshiping their ancestors and deceased persons. The bereaved only look after the tombs of the deceased for a period of three, five or seven years, and thereafter perform a “leaving the tomb” ceremony to bid farewell them to the village of the death, and the tomb is left unattended. The “leaving the tomb” Festival is the most important one reserved for the deceased held by their family members. All the local villagers attend the festival that lasts for three or four days. It involves two to three slaughtered buffaloes and hundreds of small jars of liquor.
The meaning of the “Leaving the tomb” festival is to see off the spirits of the deceased to their permanent world so that they can reincarnate and continue a new life. As for the living, they finish their duties and are free to remarry.
The festival is associated to the cycle of agriculture. It is held in the lunar first month that is the transition time between the two cycles of production. The festival is also an opportunity for farmers to give thanks to the gods and pray for a new bumper crop.
Although this ceremony is associated to the death, it is very cheerful, bearing the nuance of a festival. The festival includes three steps: taking the tomb to pieces, erecting the new tomb, and seeing off the death’s spirits to their world and treating the villagers with a feast
Elephant Race Festival
The Elephant Race Festival takes place in springtime, normally in the third lunar month. In preparation for the festive day, people take their elephants to places where they can eat their fill. Apart from grass their food also includes bananas, papayas, sugar canes, corns, sweet potatoes. The elephants are free from hard work to preserve their strength.
On the big day, elephants from different villages gather at Don Village. People from near and far in their best and colorful costumes flock to the festival. The racing ground is 500m long and wide enough for ten elephants to stand simultaneously.
After a salvo of tu va (horns made into musical instruments), the elephant handlers called nai take their elephants to the ground, standing in a row at the starting point. The leading elephant stands in front, whirling his trunk and nodding his head in greeting the spectators. Atop each elephant there are two handlers in traditional costumes for generals. The tu va signals the start of the race and the elephants rush forwards amidst the resounding cry of the spectators.
The first handler uses an iron stick called kreo in M'Nong language to speed the elephant. The second handler beats the elephant with a wooden hammer called koc to ensure its speed and to keep it in the right line. Upon seeing the first elephant dashing to the destination the spectators shout boisterously amidst the echoing sound of drums and gongs.
The winning elephant is given a laurel wreath. Like its owner, the elephant expresses its happiness and enjoy the sugar canes and bananas from the festival-goer. After this race, the elephants participate in the competition of swimming across the Serepok River, of tug-of-wars, or throwing balls and playing football.
Coming to this Elephant Race Festival, tourists have a chance to indulge in the boisterous atmosphere of the festival, of the echo of gongs and the spectacular performances of the elephants from the Central Highlands forest.
When the race comes to an end, the competing elephants bring back the atmosphere of the festival to their villages. Upon returning to their village, they receive warm welcome from the villagers. Very often the elephants from Don Village win the prizes as the village has a tradition of training and tending elephants.
The elephant race constitutes a big festival in the Central Highlands. It reflects the martial spirit of the M'Nong people, an ethnic group famous for their bravery in wild elephant hunting. The magnificent landscape of the Central Highlands further stresses the grandiose characters of this traditional festival
Co Loa Festival
On the afternoon of the 5th day of the first lunar month, all of the eight communes (including Co Loa Commune and the establishing relations between seven communes) hold the incense offering ceremony at the communal house. At Thuong Temple, village officials and mandarins hold the similar ceremony and revise the king’s contributions and achievements.
The official festival day, which is on the 6th of the first lunar month, starts with processions and grand sacrifices- offering ceremony. In early morning, a solemn and splendid procession takes orations from the oration writer’s house to the temple. The chief officiant at Thuong Temple has to come up and receive the orations and puts them on the altar. Next to the door of the temple is a pair of life-size pink and white wooden horses. Their harnesses are decorated with phoenix motifs and beautiful gold thread embroideries. The path to the temple is lined with decorative weapons and eight precious votive objects. At that time, the palanquins of the establishing relations between seven communes arrive at Thuong Temple and are put on the yard. The worshiping rituals begin. Votive offerings include incense, flowers, truncated cone-shaped cakes made of sticky rice, fruits, steamed sticky rice, meat, giay cakes and popcorn. According to folk knowledge, the last two things were used by King An Duong Vuong to treat his troops. The rituals last until 12 o’clock. Meanwhile, in the temple, some senior people representing their communes pray to the king for peace and prosperity to their villagers.
Next is the procession to take the god from the temple to the communal house so that he can watch the festivities. This is the biggest procession with the participation of all the palanquins. When reaching the main entrance called Nghi Môn, the palanquins return to their villages. Co Loa’s procession and palanquin do the same rituals once more at the communal house. This is the end of the official festival day. From then to the end of the whole festival, there are only duty ceremonies and votive offerings of residential groups, family lines and visitors.
An Duong Vuong Temple Festival has a special procession for the fake king of Nhoi village. On Mount Sai in Nhoi Village is a temple dedicated to Saint Tran Vu, who, according to legends, helps the king drive away evil spirits and build Co Loa Citadel. Every year, on the 12th day of the first lunar month, the king would go there together with his mandarins to do worshiping rituals. But because such traveling was quite complicated, King An Duong Vuong asked a local man to impersonate him and held a similar ritual. Later generations put on stage that story. Though this custom is specific for Nhoi Village, it helps to diversify activities of the Co Loa Festival.
The Co Loa Festival has many other fun activities such as human chess, wrestling, cock fighting, swings, rope climbing, card playing, and cheo and tuong singing.
On the final day of the festival, a grand farewell ceremony will be held at the temple. The rituals are the same as in the main festival day. After the rituals, the cult table of god will be returned to the sanctuary. Local people enjoy the god’s favor and expect a year of prosperity and protection from the god
Keo Pagoda Festival
Description of the festival
the annual Keo Pagoda Festival lasts three days during which lots of religious and traditional rituals and customs are held in celebration of the Buddhist monk who rendered great merits to the people and the country. The festival also hosts different traditional cultural activities, reflecting the life style, which is imbued with traits of the Red River Delta’s agricultural culture, of a riverside residential area Preparation for the festival
on the 3rd day of the 6th lunar month, after carrying out the ritual of offering bia cakes to Buddha, eight hamlets in Keo Village select their chief officiant. Each hamlet also chooses its own assistant to the chief officiant. From this day to the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, villagers decorate the pagoda. Ten days before going into the pagoda to do this work, those selected must eat vegetarian food and have a bath to clean their bodies.
On the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, the chief officiant and his eight assistants carry out the ritual of offering incense and changing the costumes of statues of gods. This ritual is held on a good day according to the zodiac between the 15th day of the eighth lunar month and the 10th day of the ninth lunar month.
On the 11th day of the ninth lunar month: the villagers hang high a big flag, and many other small flags alongside the three - entranced gate of the pagoda. On the same day, palanquin and boat bearers are selected.
On the 12th day of the ninth lunar month: On the morning of the 10th to the 12th days of the ninth lunar month, eight hamlets launch eight boats in preparation for a boat racing. Each boat is made out of light wood, 12m in length and 1m in width. Each boat can house 8 to 10 pairs of oarsmen, a guide and a helmsman Festival
On the 13th day of the ninth lunar month, the festival commences with a ceremony of procession of palanquin in celebration of the 100th day death anniversary of monk Khong Lo. The procession brings the altar, incense table and big and small boats to the three-entranced gate in the morning.
On the afternoon of the 13th day of the ninth lunar month, there takes place a boat racing. Spectators and fans flock to the banks of the Red River, standing along a distance of several kilometers. After the signal is given, the competing boats rush forward. At the end of three competing rounds, the first, second and third boat which reach the destination without violation of rules become prize-winners. At the end of the three-day competition, rating is carried out.
In the gia roi tower there takes place a contest of reading oration of sorcerers. The orations are written by the sorcerers according to the topic of “six kinds of offerings” (incense, light, flower, tea, fruit, and food). This contest is different from other competitions as its orations are written in romanized script in the form of satire. The more satirical the oration the higher the prize it gets.
In the evening, all the palanquin bearers, flag holders, and village dignitaries selected for the festival come to pay respect to the gods. Next comes the contest of horn blowing and drum beating. At 24:00 hours of this day, the chief officiant conducts the ritual of paying respect to the pennon pole.
On the 14th day of the ninth lunar month, in celebration of the birth anniversary of monk Khong Lo, in the morning, the procession ceremony comes after the incense offering ritual. Two pairs of white and pink wooden horses drawn by some people head the procession. Then come eight people holding eight flags, 42 people holding bat buu (eight traditional weapons) and lo bo, four people wearing black gauze outfit and white trousers bearing a dragon describing the journey by boat of monk Khong Lo to the capital of the kingdom to treat the king, four people in the same outfit carrying a small gilded boat put in a stand, depicting the period of monk Khong Lo’s life when he was a fisherman. Next come the octet, four persons bearing the altar, four carrying the incense table, eight children from 12 to 14 years old in yellow tunic, green trousers and red belts, resembling the buffalo boys who made friends with monk Khong Lo when he was a fisherman. The gilded palanquin in which is put the worshiping tablet of monk Khong Lo is carried by 12 boys. The chief officiant follows the palanquin. In a purple outfit he solemnly holds his two hands in front of his cheat, walking leisurely to the salvo of the drum. The festival goers come last.
When the palanquin reach a pond, four persons manipulating seven wooden puppets dance to welcome the procession. Of the seven puppets one is said to be Mrs. Chang with a cheerful and happy face. Legend has it that she often bought fish of monk Khong Lo.
On the afternoon of the 14th day, the boi trai competitions continue to take place in the river. At the gia roi tower there is a ritual of dancing to pay respect to gods, which is called “mua ech vo”.
On the 15th day of the ninth lunar month, the ritual of presenting incense as offerings to Buddha continues. This night after the procession of palanquin the game of on - land trai boat dancing.
The boat rowing dance on land is performed by 12 people in fine costumes, standing in two parallel lines like the way they sit in the boat. Two persons direct, one holds a small drum and the other, a wooden fish. Under their signal, the 12 performers “row” while flexing their legs and crying rhythmically. This interesting performance attracts large audience. This performance also puts an end to the three-day Keo Pagoda Festival