Halong Bay Festivals (Part 2)

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Quan Lan Festival

QUAN LAN FESTIVAL

Place: Dinh Wharf in Quan Lan Commune, Van A?on District
Time: The festivities are organized yearly on the 18th day of the sixth lunar month, but the celebration lasts from the 10th to the 20th days of month.
Significance: The festival is organized to commemorate the victory against the Mongol invaders in 1288, as well as the feats of Tran Khanh Du, a famous Tran general. They also pray for good ai???harvestai??? from the sea. Quan Lan Communal House Festival is the village-wide celebration for the inhabitants of the island community of Quan Lan: located the central area of the ancient Van Don Harbour.

The 10th day of the sixth lunar month features the ritual of ai???closing the village”: the inhabitants cannot leave, but those who have moved away and other guests from any corner of the country are welcome. The festivities of Quan La??n Communal House are comprised of a traditional rowing competition: villagers are divided into two sides. They establish their particular training grounds on the 13th day of the month in order to prepare themselves. The boats used are ordinary 5 to 6-tonne fishing boats, with lowered sails and dragon-heads carved on the fronts.

Quan Lan Festival

The 16th day is reserved for receiving the genies. There is a procession for the funeral tablets of Tran Khanh Du from the temple to the villageai??i??s communal house.

On the 18th day at about 3:00 PM (every year at this time the tide reaches the templeai??i??s wharf), the boats start. The “soldiers” on one side wear a white jacket and blue pants, while the other group wears gray or black clothing. When the opposing generals meet each other at the communal house, the ai???soldiersai??? and spectators shout resoundingly; the noise echoes throughout the region. The two generals make sword-tracings in the air, and the two troops meet each other three times: symbolizing the three victories during the Tran Dynasty. Following the third meeting, they assemble before the shrine, and the rowing contest begins.

The Quan Lan Communal House Festival bears characteristics of traditional village festivals, but is particularly grandiose, expressing the military spirit of the Vietnamese in the struggle against foreign invaders.

TRA CO FESTIVAL

Place: Tra Co Village, Mong Cai Town.
Time: Festivities in TrAi?? Cai??i?? take place yearly from the 30th day of the fifth lunar month until the sixth day of the sixth lunar month.
Significance: Nearly 600 years ago, Tra Co people built a communal house dedicated to the tutelary genies of the village. The festival is took place to memorize the merit of the tutelary genies of the village and pray good lucks for villagers. Tra Co the site where one first places the pen on the map to draw the S-shaped character of Vietnam. The inhabitants of TrAi?? Cai??i?? originate from Do Son.

Quan He (Nguyen Huu Cau), a leader of the peasants who rose up during the Le – Trinh period is also worshipped here. Representative of village communal house architecture of Vietnam, the building is still well preserved.

On the 25th day of the fifth lunar month, a procession of boats sails from Tra Co to the ancestorsai??i?? native land of Do Son. On the 30th day of the fifth lunar month, the boats return to Tra Co. The next day, festivities begin with the procession of the King to the sea (also named the procession of the King to the shrine). It is accompanied by an armed troop, an orchestra, a strong and handsome young man chosen by the village population holding the flag and people carrying palanquin.

After the ritual procession, there are agricultural contests, such as a pig-breeding competition. The animals receive intensive care many months in advance from their masters in hopes of getting the first prize. There is also a cooking contest, with the best cooks acquiring fame throughout the village.
On the sixth day, the festivities conclude with a flower dance. In this ritual, the population pray to the genies to allow them to catch many fish, have good luck in their trading activities and to have a prosperous lives. (to be continue)Ai??halong bay tour