Find Vietnamese culture's soul at village festivals

The latest figures for Vietnam's population stand at 96,946,894, 35.92 per cent of whom live in cities.

Dong Ky village spring festival
Village festival – culture of wet rice civilization

Find Vietnamese culture's soul at village festivals

Dong Ky Village Spring Festival. (Illustrative image – Photo: ND)

This means more than one in every three Vietnamese lives in a city, but many of them still have rural roots.

One of the most noted scholars on Vietnamese culture, historian Tran Quoc Vuong (1934-2005), stated that Vietnamese history is based and later flourished on the village culture. For the most part, cities have been built by enlarging scattered villages.

In today's Hanoi, you will still find small villages with their own temples and pagodas that have been embraced by urbanisation and city planning. If you don't live in an apartment nor alongside the street, chances are that your house belongs to an older village.

In spring, village festivals bloom in the countryside, both in the Red River Delta or in northern mountains.

One of Vietnam's most noted anthropologists, Nguyen Van Huy, former director of Hanoi's Museum of Ethnology, recently told cultural enthusiasts how important villages are.

"If you want to understand Vietnamese culture, find your way to small village festivals in the countryside," he said.

"Village festivals make the soul of Vietnamese culture."

Tet (Lunar New Year) is the most important festival of the year, followed by village festivals when a community praises a village patron saint, who is usually someone who either saved the people from wars or natural disasters or taught villagers a craft to make ends meet.

During the Le Dynasty (1428-1789), the Le Code issued under King Le Thanh Tong regulated village rules and rituals, making communities more tight-knit and stronger. Also starting from the Le Dynasty, village festivals in the northern region had some similarities in how they were held.

The village Gods, or founding father of a community, are worshipped in village temples. There are many families in a village and they may compete during the long course of history, but they worship the same village God, and at the beginning of a new year, they are reminded of their common roots.

A village festival usually has two parts: rituals paying tribute to founding fathers, cleaning up the worship articles and statues and fetching new water or trees, while the second part is games and festivities for everyone to enjoy.

 

Today, according to Huy, village festivals have been shortened due to a lack of time, as people have to return to work in urban centres. Back when Vietnam was still a kingdom, village festivals usually lasted between half a month to a full month, because people lived off farming and after planting rice, they had a lot of time to kill.

Now, village festivals have been shortened to last only a day or two, to fit the fast pace of modern times.

The Perfume Pagoda festival, the north's biggest festival, which draws thousands of people every year, started recently, with people leaving their homes in the cold of the night.

People go to big festivals because of their sacredness and reputation, as the line of pilgrims to the Perfume Pagoda, to Trang An in Ninh Binh or Bai Dinh Pagoda never ceases during the first lunar month.

Cultural authorities have warned of the escalation festival activities for commercial purposes, which in turn leads to false beliefs, which is even more damaging for the festivals and their meaning.

The media in recent years have fought bad practices in the name of village festivals such as fighting to get an award or spreading small bills at the foot of a tree, or on an altar, or building false temples and altars to get donations from visitors.

If you want to get the true spirit of a village festival, look for smaller villages, where the festival takes place in a low-key, more moderate manner and the rituals remain true to their origins.

Over time, Vietnam has grown fast toward a modern society, but village life needs to be prolonged by the upcoming generations. Urbanisation is fast, but it needs to be backed by a sound and strong agricultural background.

Spring is the beginning of a year, a festival is to share your belief, hope and quietly promise your predecessors a hard-working year ahead. They need to be held in a heartfelt, solemn and respectful manner, so young people can look up to their ancestors and carry on good traditions. VNS

Nguyen My Ha

La Phu village preserves communal house, pig procession festival

La Phu village preserves communal house, pig procession festival

La Phu village in Hanoi’s outlying district of Hoai Duc is one of the few ancient rural villages that well preserve its communal house and traditional festivals.  

 
 

Other News

.
Hanoi FC named as most valuable Vietnamese football club
Hanoi FC named as most valuable Vietnamese football club
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  17/06/2020 

V.League 1 champions Hanoi FC have been named as the Vietnamese football club with the highest estimated market value of EUR3.65 million, as calculated by football website Transfermarkt.

Album of music by Vietnamese-American composer released
Album of music by Vietnamese-American composer released
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  24/06/2020 

An album of love songs by Vietnamese-American composer Lam Phuong, a famous artist in the south in the 1970s-80s, has been released in HCM City.

Promoting traditional games urgently needed in modern society
Promoting traditional games urgently needed in modern society
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  24/06/2020 

Folk games, a common childhood memory of many generations of Vietnamese people, are gradually fading in modern society. 

Van Quyet strike named among five best acrobatic goals by AFC
Van Quyet strike named among five best acrobatic goals by AFC
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  23/06/2020 

Nguyen Van Quyet’s stunning strike against Ceres Negros FC of the Philippines in 2017 has been listed among the five best acrobatic goals, announced the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Concert to celebrate COVID-19 frontline workers
Concert to celebrate COVID-19 frontline workers
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  23/06/2020 

Vietnamese singers and composers will take part in Khi Ta Sống (When We Come Alive) concert in HCM City on June 27 to celebrate frontline workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exhibition shows artworks inspired by music
Exhibition shows artworks inspired by music
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  23/06/2020 

With a smartphone, visitors can scan the QR code on the painting by Jacob Reymond at an exhibition which has opened in Hanoi, then listen to the song that inspired him to create the painting.

Japanese fund invests US$8m into VN cinema group
Japanese fund invests US$8m into VN cinema group
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  23/06/2020 

Beta Media has officially signed a contract to receive US$8 million from Japanese investment fund Daiwa PI Partners.

Vietnamese artworks to be auctioned online
Vietnamese artworks to be auctioned online
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  23/06/2020 

A total of 143 artworks by Vietnamese artists in different generations will be auctioned worldwide on June 27 via the Drouot Digital platform in Paris.

Vietnam's top tennis player triumphs at VTF Masters 500
Vietnam's top tennis player triumphs at VTF Masters 500
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  23/06/2020 

Vietnamese No 1 tennis player Ly Hoang Nam of Hai Dang Club proved his talent at the VTF Masters 500 - Hai Dang Cup which concluded in the southern province of Tay Ninh on Sunday.

Vietnam placed in same group as Laos for AFC U19 Championship 2020 finals
Vietnam placed in same group as Laos for AFC U19 Championship 2020 finals
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  22/06/2020 

The Vietnamese U19 men’s national football team have been drawn in Group C at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U19 Championship 2020 finals and will take on regional rivals such as Laos, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.

AFF Cup 2020 prepared to maintain tournament schedule
AFF Cup 2020 prepared to maintain tournament schedule
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  22/06/2020 

Following discussions conducted by the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF), the football organisation has decided that the regional tournament will continue to run in line with its current format, 

Past and present linked in Hanoi’s tradition of enjoying lotus tea
Past and present linked in Hanoi’s tradition of enjoying lotus tea
YOUR VIETNAMicon  22/06/2020 

For many people, tea is not just a drink. Tea drinking has become an elegant hobby enjoyed by many Vietnamese people and Hanoians in particular.

Int’l Yoga Day draws nearly 3,000 in Quang Ninh
Int’l Yoga Day draws nearly 3,000 in Quang Ninh
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  22/06/2020 

The sixth International Yoga Day, themed “Yoga from home”, drew nearly 3,000 yogis at home and abroad in the northern province of Quang Ninh on June 21.

Graffiti artist decorates house with images on COVID-19
Graffiti artist decorates house with images on COVID-19
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  22/06/2020 

There’s a house in Hanoi’s Ha Dong District that really is a head-turner.

Yoga, an invaluable gift from ancient Indian civilisation to the modern world
Yoga, an invaluable gift from ancient Indian civilisation to the modern world
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  20/06/2020 

On December 11, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 69/131 declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga.

Hue Festival rescheduled in August
Hue Festival rescheduled in August
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  21/06/2020 

The 11th biennial cultural event Huế Festival will be held on August 28 to September 2 at Ngo Mon Square in Hue City, five months after its original schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dalat Ultra Trail cancelled after athlete dies
Dalat Ultra Trail cancelled after athlete dies
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  21/06/2020 

The fourth Dalat Ultra Trail has been cancelled after an athlete died due to extreme weather conditions.

Yoga to be celebrated across nation
Yoga to be celebrated across nation
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  20/06/2020 

The sixth International Day of Yoga (June 21) will be celebrated across the country from June 21-28 under the theme “Yoga from Home”.

Asian Football Federation refuses Vietnam proposal to host AFF Cup 2020
Asian Football Federation refuses Vietnam proposal to host AFF Cup 2020
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  20/06/2020 

The Asian Football Federation (AFF) has turned down a proposal by Vietnam to organise the AFF Cup 2020.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN