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Cambodia Tour Packages - Cambodia Holiday Itinerary

A spring folk festival

Recently, on the second day of the second moon, in company with Vietnamese and American friends, I went to one of those spring folk festivals which enhance the charm of the northern delta by extending the joyful popular atmosphere for several months after Tet, the lunar New Year.
 
After crossing the Chuong Duong bridge, our car turned right and travelled along the Red River dyke, heading downstream. The village of Da Hoa (Chau Giang district, Hai Duong province) is about twenty kilometres from Hanoi. On the last stretch of road the car bumped along, jolting us as it went over the potholes and ruts.
 
As we drew nearer to the village, we knew from the crackling of firecrackers that the festival was in full swing. From afar, we saw a square flag in the colours of the Five Cosmic Elements fluttering in the wind. The approaches to the temple dedicated to Chu Dong Tu were lined with kiosks and stalls for the sale of various foods and cult objects and thronged with a motley crowd: middle aged women in yellow turban and gown carrying incense and other offerings, young virgins in white were going to perform a sacred dance, old men with long white beards wearing the traditional costume, young children sporting their red Pioneer’s scarves and dancing or swinging.. .Young people wore jeans and T-shirts, a sign of the times. Drums and gongs resounded...
 
All village festivals include two parts which often mingle: liturgy (le) and rejoicing (hoi). The Propitiatory Water rite in particular is common practice among rice farmers of the lowlands and uplands: its aim is to pray for rain, in Da Hoa it involved the participation of hundreds of officiating persons in an imposing ceremony. A procession of large flat bottomed boats sailed down the river, led by a respected elder who at one point would lean overboard to scoop up water with a red lacquered vessel which he poured into a fine porcelain vase. This water would be used in subsequent rituals, in particular to clean the divinities' statues.
 
Chu Dong Tu, referred to above, is the name of an immortal whose story is told in a very ancient legend dating back to the dawn of our history, about the first millennium B.C. Once upon a time, there was a young fisherman who was so poor that he had not a single garment, not even a loincloth, to cover his nudity. One day, as he was fishing in a deserted bend of the river, he saw coming to the place a dragon boat. Chu Dong Tu hastily hid from view by burying himself in the sand of the beach. The boat came to anchor. The princess, charmed by the beauty of the landscape, ordered a tent pitched where she would take a bath. As she undressed and poured water over her body, the layer of sand was washed away and the naked body of a handsome youth was exposed. “This encounter must be the will of Heaven,” she thought. A ceremony was held there and then for their marriage. The couple decided to make their home in the region, which grew prosperous. But the union angered her king father who sent troops to bring her home. The night before their arrival, however, the will of Heaven intervened again. A storm broke out. The palace they had built for themselves vanished by magic and in its place was now a vast pond, which the local people later called Built-Overnight pond. It was believed that the couple had become Immortals and had gone to live in the god’s heavenly abode.
 
The story is interesting to students of history and culture because it is set in a pre-Confucian environment, before the adoption of the Confucian rigid ethics and code of conduct. It implies recognition of love and marriage freed from the shackles of paternal authority and the weight of class barriers.
 
There exist in the country several temples dedicated to Chu Dong Tu. The one we visited in Chau Giang is the most important. Built in 1894 on raised ground by the river, it covers an area of nearly 19,000 square metres. Its 18 roofs symbolize the reigns of the 18 semi legendary kings of the Hung dynasty, and also the 18 years of the princess when she married. It is a structure which can bear comparison with the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) in Ha Noi. It was designed by a noted scholar, Chu Manh Trinh (1862-1905), who was also known for his appreciation of and the poems he wrote about this unique jewel of our literature.
 
Come to discover spring folk festivals in Vietnam after Myanmar travel
 
 
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Update : 05-07-2017

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