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FOLK ARTS FESTIVALS AND TRADITIONAL ARTS

Folk arts festivals and traditional art are intangible human tourism resources. It is a form of special cultural activities, reflecting the mental and spiritual life of the nation. Binh Dinh is the place of cultural convergence and inference of various ethnic groups; hence the forms of folk arts and traditional festivals are also varied and plentiful.


The Folk Art of Bai Choi Singing

The folk art of Bai Choi singing (singing while playing cards) originated from the former Bai Choi festival.

The festival is usually held in the spring. People put up 9 V-shape huts with the major one placed in the center. In a bai choi game, the umpire is the person shouting out sentences of a folk song of each card such as: nhut tro, nhi bi, tam qunng, etc. At the end of a game, bai choi artists play each section of classical Tuong (drama) such as: Thoai Khanh - Chau Thuan, Lang Chau - Ly An, Pham Cong - Cuc Hoa, etc.


Photo: Dao Phan Minh Can.

The festival is usually held in the spring. People put up 9 V-shape huts with the major one placed in the center. In a bai choi game, the umpire is the person shouting out sentences of a folk song of each card such as: nhut tro, nhi bi, tam qunng, etc. At the end of a game, bai choi artists play each section of classical Tuong (drama) such as: Thoai Khanh - Chau Thuan, Lang Chau - Ly An, Pham Cong - Cuc Hoa, etc.

Bai choi singing in Binh Dinh attracts the tourist with its unique arts language in a variety of melodies such as: xuan nu, ho quang, xang xe, co ban and folk song such as: ly thuong nhau, vong kim lang, ho tat nuoc, etc.

Bai choi stage has showed special characters of a national folk art form associated with the countryside filled with sea breeze, and sweet, simple and loving field flavor.

 

Boi Singing

Binh Dinh is one of the cradles of Boi singing art (Tuong). From the past, almost all of villages in Binh Dinh had boi team and the training center for boi artists in each village.

When forefather Dao Tan returned to retire at his hometown and established Hoc Bo Dinh Vinh Thanh (training center at Vinh Thanh communal house, currently belongs to Tuy Phuoc district, Binh Dinh), Boi singing in Binh Dinh became more and more prosperous. Because forefather Dao Tan had internalized the quintessence of boi singing in many regions, Hoc Bo Dinh Vinh Thanh became the top training center for boi singing of his time. From Hoc Bo Dinh Vinh Thanh, the movement of Hat Boi has developed widely across Binh Dinh and become distinctive cultural feature of this land.

Photo: Hoa Kha.

Nowadays, Binh Dinh preserves, inherits and promotes boi singing art in Dao Tan style, a scholar and traditional art form close to the masses. Successive generations of this land still strive to preserve and refine boi singing art form to become particular cultural feature of Binh Dinh province.

To enjoy and understand this art form, beside professional Tuong theatre named after the forefather Dao Tan, Binh Dinh also has many other Boi singing groups in different communes in the province which always meet the demands of tourists.

 

Dong Da Festival - Tay Son

This is a big festival to commemorate the leaders of Tay Son movement, especially plain-clothes hero Quang Trung - Nguyen Hue and celebrate the victory of Ngoc Hoi - Dong Da which chasing 290 thousands Qing soldiers out of the territory (in 1789).

Photo: Hoa Kha.

The festival is held solemnly and monumentally in the 4th and 5th of lunar January every year in Phu Phong Town - Tay Son District.

In addition to traditional ceremonies, the festival also organizes many folklore activities like: Tay Son martial arts performances, Tay Son drum of war, sailing, folk games, boi singing, etc. attracting thousands of people from all regions of the country to attend.

 

Go Market Festival

Being held on the first day of Lunar New Yew in Phong Thanh village, Tuy Phuoc town,Tuy Phuoc district, the festival mainly focuses on market gathering and trading at the beginning of the year to take lucks for the whole year.

However, trading is just symbolic purpose, joining the festival for funs is very principle one. Young people joining Go market festival finding their place and glance to find the lover. Teenagers with some lucky money will buy toys, foods and drinks. The middle-aged people play chess, cock fighting, etc. Go market festival was first held approximately 300 years ago.



Legend has it that, two generals of Tay Son, Tran Quang Dieu and Vo Van Dung commanded the soldiers stationed in this area opened Go market festival for soldiers and people to entertain to lessen homesickness in the New Year.

Nowadays, Go market festival has enhanced to a new step with solemn ceremony and joyful festival. The traditional games are organized such as lion dancing, cock fighting, chess, shuttlecock kicking, pots beating, tug, etc.

 

Do Gian Festival

In the 15th day of the seventh lunar month of year of Ty (Snake), Dau (Chicken), Suu (Buffalo),the people in An Nhon district and nearby districts often rush into An Thai village, An Nhon district, Binh Dinh province to attend Vu Lan festival (Parent's Day or Wandering Soul’s Day), watching Boi singing, and talent competitions.

However, among the entire festival, the one most compelling and attracting many people is xo co - hitching the offerings (Vietnamese call Xo Gian - trellis hitching, later called Do Gian - trellis falling down). People set up a high worship trellis, on which placed offerings to worship the genie including: incense, flowers, tea, fruits, rice, cake and especially roast pork as heavy as around twenty kilograms.


After traditional worshipping ceremonies, the priest declares hitching the trellis which kicks off the competition. The Dojo together finds the way to take the roast pork. After that, they must wriggle, plunge from the crowd, and bring the pork to the indicated safe position. Of course, each competition team has assigned the guardians to prevent other dangerous competitors to snatch the pork out of their hands.

According to the custom, the booty of roast pig will be cut off to invite all martial artists presenting at the competition. Winning marital artists or marital village will be applauded and respected; and people believe that they will be lucky thanks to enjoying “fortune off the genie”.

Do Gian festival is not held in Binh Dinh only, but Do Gian festival of An Thai always attract the most crowded attendees and the ceremony of hitching the offering of An Thai also receives highest respectation.

 

Boat Race Festival

Right after completing Go market festival, the day after, the 2nd of New Year Festival, tourists will have opportunity to attend boat race festival at Go Boi (Boi knoll), Phuoc Hoa commune, Tuy Phuoc district, and maternal homeland of Xuan Dieu poet.

Photo: Hoa Kha.

Go Boi has a river named Go Boi, with its outfall to Thi Nai lagoon. Young male and female from villages in the commune and neighbor communes come to race on river waves by round boat and collective dragon boat run at full speed amidst shouts and cheering of thousands of people at the banks which contribute more funs to traditional New Year’s day in the wafers countryside.

Nowadays, boat race festival is also a movement to exercise the endurance serving fishing and aquaculture of the fishermen in the region.

 

Cau Ngu Festival

Cau Ngu (whale worship) is a form of folk festivals associated with the life coastal fishermen from Quang Binh to the Southern. Being originated from the floating life on wind waves, and always facing with storms with primitive equipment, coastal people put their faith upon Gods.

Cau Ngu Festival at Cat Khanh commune (Phu Cat District) - Photo: Nguyen Thi Quyen.

Every year, they organize Cau Ngu festival worshipping “South sea god” or whale to pray for favorable conditions for sail boats to catch more fishes. In Binh Dinh, Cau Ngu festival is held in almost all of coastal areas in Hoai Nhon district, Phu My district, Phu Cat district, Tuy Phuoc district and Quy Nhon city, and usually from February to June of lunar calendar.

As usual, the festival takes place in 3 days and nights. On the first day, the ceremonies of worshipping “Tran thiet bai vi” (ancestral tablets), “Then nghinh than” (gods greeting) ceremony and an than (gods seating) are held. The second day is for Gods sacrifice offering ceremony.

On the third day, festival part includes ba trao singing (singing while holding the paddles), betel eating and Boi singing, folk songs singing, and folk games of coastal fishermen, etc.

Cau ngu festival contributes to release and regulate psychological and mental life of individuals and fishermen community, which is the opportunity for the fishermen to relax their spiritual life after one year of hard fishing. Cultural activities in the festival bring joy and excitement to the fishermen, and create confident mood for a new fishing season.

Other the other hand, this is also the opportunity for the community to show their gratitude to Gods, predecessors, and people having efforts in developing fisheries, and also the opportunity to reunion with friends and neighbors.

 

Salt Water Urban Festival

Nuoc man (Salt water) Festival is one of the traditional festivals with a large scale that was first held very early in Binh Dinh. About 400years ago, the area of An Hoa hamlet was a famous and busy salt water trading port. The Chinese immigrants from Canton and Fujian came here to set up and do business.

Nuoc man festival came into being and was held marking the coastal trading port entering its period of prosperity. In the same time, it symbolizes the Vietnamese - Chinese cultural harmony when the boundary of  Dai Viet (Greit Viet) was limity at Mount Da Bia (heal stone), Deo Ca (Main Mountain pass), Phu Yen. In such a way, it has been maintained, developed, and gone through ups and downs in tunes with this trading port.

Photo: Van Luu.

The festival is held every year from the first to the third day of February in Lunar calendar at Chua Ba (Lady Temple), An Hoa hamlet, Phuoc Quang commune, Tuy Phuoc district.

Nuoc man festival has been recognized to be provincial historical relics by People's Committee of Binh Dinh province.