The first month of the Lunar New Year is a perfect time for curious people to visit festivals. Following are top five festivals one should discover in northern Vietnam during this time of year, according to Vietnamplus.
1. Na Nhem Festival in the northern mountainous province of Lang Son
Na Nhem festival takes place from the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Na Nhem means dirty face in the language of Tay ethnic minority people. This annual event attracts many Tay people and visitors in Tran Yen Commune, Bac Son District, Lang Son Province. Na Nhem has been restored for five years. During the festival, all participants have to make their face dirty to drive away evil’s attention which might bring disasters and diseases to villagers. The event is held to promote traditional and unique features of a community festival.
A highlight of the festival is a ceremony to worship male and female genitalia to pray for growth and development.
2. Xuan Pha Festival the north-central province of Thanh Hoa
The annual Xuan Pha Festival happens from the 10th to 12th of the second lunar month. It was created thousands of years ago in Xuan Pha Village (currently Xuan Truong Commune, Tho Xuan District, Thanh Hoa Province).
The festival is a collection of five outstanding dancing performances called Hoa Lang, Tu Huan, Ai Lao, Ngo Quoc and Xiem Thanh which replicate all the activities of a country. Performers in the event are farmers and performance tools are made from local material like bamboo, wood, and banyan tree roots.
During the show, people play drum, two-string and other unique instruments like ho, thanh la, and nao bat. The drum will have a dimension of 60-65cm and the tocsin which is 20cm long is made from bamboo to create perfect sounds. The dancing performance is inspired mostly by the imperial palace and folk with colorful costumes, mysterious masks and beautiful music.
3. Quang Lang Festival in the northern province of Thai Binh
The festival is held on the fourteenth day of the fourth lunar month at the Lady Muoi temple in Quang Lang Village, Thuy Van Commune, Thai Thuy District, Thai Binh Province. In the event, villagers pray for prosperity and development in the community. Visitors may be amazed by a folk dancing performance named Mr. Dung and Mrs. Da to pray for prosperity.
The faces of Mr. Dung and Mrs. Da will be painted in red and white respectively on bamboo flat baskets with a dimension of one meter. On the early morning of the festival day, local people will bring the models of Mr. Dung and Mrs. Da to the temple to organize an official ceremony. The dancing performance will take place at night. Actors will perform around the village and locals will follow them.
4. Giong (Phu Dong) Festival in Hanoi
Giong, or Phu Dong, Festival is held annually on the 8th and 9th of the fourth lunar month at Phu Dong Commune, Gia Lam District, Hanoi, the hometown of legendary hero Phu Dong Thien Vuong.
The festival has been well preserved. The event revives a battle of Phu Dong Thien Vuong against invaders, with hundreds of actors playing in numerous sessions. Especially, 56 actors which are under 15 will be chosen for the roles of 28 generals and 28 virgin girls in the event. Families whose children or relatives are chosen for the festival will throw big parties out of joy and pride.
Giong Festival in Hanoi
5. Cau Bun Festival in the northern province of Bac Giang
Cau Bun is known as one of the oldest festivals in the country. The unique festival was born in the 6th century and is biennially held on the 12th, 13th and 14th of the fourth lunar month in Yen Vien Hamlet, Van Ha Commune, Viet Yen District, Bac Giang Province.
The festival was revived in 2002 after years of interruption. During the festival, people will compete to take a cau bun ball which represents the sun. Successfully grasping the ball will lead to fine weather in the locality of winners.
There are 16 strong and single men to be chosen for the game. They will have three training sessions prior to the festival. Players will only wear a loincloth and stand in four lines in front of the yard with their faces heading to the temple. Then they will enter a 200-square-meter mud yard to start the game. Any team that is able to hold a 20kg ball and push into a hole which is one meter deep is considered winners.