The annual kite flying festival of Ba Duong Noi village in Hanoi’s outlying district of Dan Phuong is held on the fifteenth day of the third lunar month.
|Foreign visitors show a great interest in Ba Duong Noi kites.|
According to the village annals, the practice dates back more than 1,000 years. The Ba Duong Noi village kite festival is the biggest flute kite festival in the north.
Ever since the establishment of the village, the Ba Duong Noi villagers have been making and flying kites along the banks of the Red River and have organized their own kite competitions which have expanded to include other localities.
Unlike the colorful kites of Hue or Hoi An in the central region, which have many elaborate shapes, Ba Duong Noi kites are simple, without tails, in the shapes of crescent moons or boats, and attached to wooden flutes that play soft melodies as the wind passes through them.
There are 3 types of Ba Duong Noi kite. The first, called a long-horned grasshopper kite, is big, pointed, and curved and can carry a lot of flutes. A lemon-leaf-shaped kite can fly much higher than a long-horned grasshopper kite.
The third type is a plain kite with wide wings and rounded ends. This type carries few flutes but can fly very high. It’s more difficult to control than the other two. Most people prefer the lemon-leaf-shaped kites.
Phan Van Ha, head of the management board of Ba Duong Noi village relics and of the kite festival’s organizing board, said, “According to the competition’s rules, a kite should be 2.2m long and 0.6 m wide and have 3 or more flutes. The smallest flute should have a diameter of 2.5 cm. There are 7 prizes in all one first prize: one second prize, 2 third prizes, and 3 consolation prizes. Judging is based on the size, height, balance, and sound of the flutes. The maximum score is 40 points.”
The morning of the festival a ritual incense offering is conducted at the village temple to worship delta deities. All contestants present their kites to the deities before bringing them to the field. Kite flying is done in the afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m..
This year’s festival attracted 50 kites from 15 clubs in and around Hanoi. The kite made by Bui Quang Long of the An Khanh Kite Club in Hoai Duc district won first prize. The festival has great cultural and spiritual significance, according to Nguyen Huu Kiem, President of the Hong Ha Kite Club.
“The kite flying festival of Ba Duong Noi village is a festival for residents of wet rice growing areas. If the kites soar high in the sky and the flutes sound loud, people will have good weather and a bumper crop. The sound of the flutes is believed to drive away miasma and epidemics. The kite of the winner is placed in the temple for a year to honor the deities in addition to a kite made by Ba Duong Noi villagers for worshipping. Vietnam is the only country in the world with flute kites,” said Kiem.
Each kite team is divided - half hold the string that controls the kite and half launch the field raising the kite. The spectators stand along the edge of the field, shouting and laughing.
Lionel Cau, a French visitor, said, “I’m very happy to attend the festival and to have been welcomed so warmly by the locals. Here there is a meeting between traditional and modern values. These flute kites are special. We also have kite flying festivals in France, which often take place near the beach. But our kites don’t carry flutes.”
Kite contestants begin to prepare in the eighth lunar month of the previous year.
Nguyen Van Dong of Ba Duong Noi village said, “We prepare bamboo to make the kites and flutes and 800 to 1,200 meters of string to fly the kites. A kite usually flies to a height of 500 to 600 meters. The winning kite should fly higher than the clouds. At that height it is just a tiny speck in the sky. The flute sound should be clear and produce a rhythm like a symphony in the air. Our 6-member team participates in the festival every year. We often place high in the contest.”
Flying kites is a passion for most of the residents of Ba Duong Noi village. Generation after generation of villagers have maintained and preserved this feature of their traditional culture. The village is one of the folk culture destinations promoted by the Vietnam Folk Art Association.