Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu to host World Food Festival

Posted by mssarah55 on March 18, 2010 under Vietnam Travel Info | 4 Comments to Read

The southern coastal province of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu will host the World Food Festival 2010 from July 21-25.

A 3km-long party will be arranged along the beautiful beaches of Thùy Vân and Bãi Sau in Vũng Tàu City, representatives of the Organizing Board revealed at a press briefing held in Hà Nội on March 11.

The festival will also include markets on specialties and dishes from all 63 provinces and cities in Việt Nam and more than 80 nations in the world, they added.

With five main facets – gastronomy, culture, festivities, shopping and relaxing- the event is expected to provide visitors with opportunities to enjoy traditional dishes and beverages, explore different cultures, shop and take part in a colorful parade with thousands of other people from different countries as well as areas in Việt Nam.

During the festival, cooking demonstrations will be held on the beaches.

The Organizing Board hopes the festival will become an annual traditional event in Vũng Tàu Province and will be recognized as a Guinness world record in terms of the largest space for a gastronomy festival.

Source: VGP News

www.vietnam-visa.com

Vietnamese Timbre – the captivation in Vietnam's Imperial City

Posted by huongpr2389 on March 5, 2009 under Vietnam Culture, Vietnam Festivals, Vietnam Travel Stories | Be the First to Comment

Hue festival

Hue festival

Am Sac Viet (Vietnamese Timbre) – a program that brings three musical styles from the North, the Central and the South of Vietnam -  is attracting thousands of people in the Hue festival.

Am Sac Viet is a combination of ca tru (choral chamber music) from the north, ca Hue (Hue singing) and cai luong (renovated opera) from the south.

Three troupes, one from each region, got together for their first one-hour performance inside Dien Tho palace on Sunday night.

The four-member Thai Ha group from Ha Noi, Hue-based Phu Xuan with seven artists and two artists from Bach Tuyet and Thanh Hai from HCM City each performed a 20-minute item.

“I love the atmosphere of this music which feels like a trip back in history to the time of the mandarin or the court of the Vietnamese kings, when there was nothing electronic, only music, architecture and simple things,” French tourist Alain Thomas said. “It is extremely emotional music and has a very unique timbre.”

The audience was welcomed through the three entrances of the wooden palace by young women in ao dai (traditional long dress of Viet Nam) and were shown to their seats on embroidered pillows around a slightly raised stage.

In front of each pillow was a porcelain flowered tray on which sat a pottery tea set, a small pottery plate plus a white or pink lotus flower.

The show’s director said three sweet bean candies and three sugar-coated lotus seeds were laid out for audience members to allow the fine fragrance of the lotus flower to circulate during the performance.

“I have no idea about the programme but its name absorbed me,” said a Viet kieu (an overseas Vietnamese), home from the US for one month.

“As a Viet kieu living far from Viet Nam for such a long time, I am very interested in this music,” the middle-aged woman said. “I know it is something very original.”

Seventy-year-old Nguyen Van Mui, the leader of the Thai Ha troupe, said the combination in such solemn surroundings helps the audiences better understand the typical features of each style of music.

“I am happy to see not only middle-aged and old people, but also young people show respect for traditional music.”

Sitting silently from the beginning to the end of the show, 19-year-old Nguyen Le Minh, a student from the Hue, was one of the youngest members of the audience.

Minh had only come inside Dien Tho to shelter from the rain, but then decided to stay.

“But it is not easy to enjoy the three typical kinds of music at the same time and in a such a serious atmosphere.”

Am Sac Viet programme is performed every night at Dien Tho Palace throughout the Hue Festival.

Ancestor worship – Vietnamese belief

Posted by vietnamtravelblog on October 10, 2008 under Vietnam Festivals | 10 Comments to Read

Source:  Vietnam Culture

Ancestor worship has been said that the Vietnamese believe in the dead, while the Occidentals believe only in death.

Ancestor worship was introduced into Vietnam by the Chinese during their long occupation of the country that began 200 years before the birth of Christ. Since then, it has been fully absorbed into the Vietnamese consciousness and, with Confucianism, underpins the country’s religion and social fabric. It somewhat represents for Vietnamese culture.

Ancestor worship is not only the adhesive that binds the Vietnamese together, but also one of the most difficult concepts for people from Anglo-Saxon or European origins to understand. It has been said that the Vietnamese believe in the dead, while the Occidentals believe only in death.

The basis of ancestor worship seems to stem from two principle ideas: (1) that “those who have gone before” have a continual and beneficent interest in the affairs of the living; and (2) more widespread, uneasiness, fear of the dead, with practices to placate them. The later ideas more often serve as a form of dispensing emotions than of worship.

How do Vietnamese people worship their ancestors?
The practice of ancestor worship is relatively straightforward. Nearly every house, office, and business in Vietnam has a small altar which is used to commune with ancestors. Incense sticks are burned frequently. Offerings are made – fruit, sweets, and gifts. The latter items are paper replicas of dollar notes (‘ghost money’), motorbikes, cars, houses and so on. After worship, the paper gifts are burnt so that the spirits of the gifts can ascend to heaven for the ancestors to use.

In the past, the income from a plot of land was used to maintain the altar and arrange the rituals, but this tradition has now faded away. However, the custom that the eldest son will arrange the ceremonial and inherit the family house upon the death of his parents is still generally observed.

Another traditional element is the placing of wooden tablets on the altar for each of the ancestors over recent generations. This is less rigorously observed today, and tablets are often replaced by photographs. Some pagodas house commemorative tablets for ancestors on behalf of regular worshipers.

When do Vietnamese people worship their ancestors?
Worshiping takes place regularly on particular days, such as festivals, new and full moon days, the death day of the ancestor, and so on. On important occasions, such as moving house, starting a new business or the birth of a child, and whenever a member of the family needs guidance or a favour, the ancestors are consulted.

A proliferation of small fires of burning paper in the streets of towns and cities means that it is a festival or moon day. One paper fire is likely to be an event affecting a single family.

Why do Vietnamese people worship their ancestors?
For the Vietnamese, ancestor worship is not related to ghosts, spiritualism or even the supernatural in the Western sense. It is not even a ‘belief’ in the sense that it is open to question by the ‘believers’. The Vietnamese accept as a fact that their ancestors continue to live in another realm, and that it is the duty of the living to meet their needs. In return, the ancestors give advice and bring good fortune.

Devotees of Buddhism believe in previous existences, and seek to correct previous bad deeds to reach enlightenment. Ancestor worship is fundamentally different. For the Vietnamese, death, and the ritual and practice of ancestor worship, constitutes the transfer of power from the tangible life to the intangible. Existence is a continuum stretching through birth, a life spent in tangible form on Earth, followed by death and a spirit existence in another realm for a further two or three generations.

Who are the heroic ancestors
By virtue of their worthy deeds, heroic ancestors, such as Tran Hung Dao and the Trung sisters, continue to exist and be worshiped in temples for many generations beyond the two or three of ordinary folk. Their rectitude is a model to guide the behavior of the living.

What about ‘bad’ ancestors?
All ancestors are worthy of respect and reverence, regardless of their behavior as living beings. However, the misdeeds of a wicked family ancestor will be visited upon his or her children and grandchildren in the form of bad luck. This is a powerful influence upon the behavior of the living, influencing them to behave well and do good deeds in the present, thereby endowing their living and unborn children with good luck in the future.

How does ancestor worship affect daily life in Vietnam?
The effect of ancestor worship upon Vietnamese society is profound. There are three main concepts:
- regarding life as a small part of an infinitely greater whole embracing the entire race
- a belief that the past and present exist simultaneously
- a certitude that each individual’s behaviour in life has a direct impact upon the quality of the lives of his or her children and grandchildren
Taken together, these convictions extend the concept of the family far beyond the sense in which the term is used in the West. A Vietnamese person is never ‘alone’ – his or her ‘family’ is always present.

What is the future of ancestor worship in Vietnam?
Whether ancestor worship will continue to be strong as the influence of scientific rationalism and social change accelerates, is an open question. In the past, the majority of individual family members lived within close geographical proximity. The turmoil in the years before and after the defeat of the US forces led to an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people.

More recently, economic migration and travel to far countries to study or work have created a growing Diaspora. Only time will determine whether the strength of the beliefs that have sustained the Vietnamese family unit over many centuries and created a unique national community will withstand the pressures of globalisation and expanding modern technology.

Vietnam Festival – Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival

Posted by vietnamtravelblog on October 3, 2008 under Vietnam Festivals | Be the First to Comment

Thousands of people annually gathered at the stadium of Do Son Town, Hai Phong City to witness the attractive performances of buffalos within the Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival, an outstanding and unique festival one in Vietnam which is associated with different legends.

One of the legends has it that long time ago, one Creator caused a severe drought. All living things looked toward the sea, praying for Creator’s favour. In the most miserable moment, suddenly, people saw two buffalos fighting fiercely on the wave crests and the rains started to pour down, revive all creature. The local people organise the fighting performance annually to show, not only their great gratitude for the Sir Buffalo but also their desire for the immortal vitality and strength of coastal people of Haiphong. Being held officially and annually on the ninth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar since the 18th century, the festival is a chance for local people to pray for prosperity and happiness.

The preparation for this buffalo fighting festival is an elaborate process, from the 5th and the 6th lunar month itself. The competing buffalos must be carefully selected and methodically trained months in advance of the festival. These buffalos, that had experienced the qualifying round, must be between 4 and 5 years old, with a good appearance, a wide chest, a big groin, a long neck, an acute bottom and bow shaped horns. The selected buffalos, after all the elimination rounds, are fed in separate cages to keep them from contact with common buffalos.

Buffalo fighting performance

The beginning of the worshipping ceremony lasts until lunch time. Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival takes off with a colorful procession with an octet and a big procession chair, carried by six strong young men. The chosen buffalos, covered with red cloth and red band around their horns, are taken to the fighting ring by 24 young men, from each side dressed in red. The young men dance and wave flags as the two teams of troops take their positions in the fighting ground. The dance was mingled with the ebullient sound of drums and gongs, bringing a hectic atmosphere to the festival. After this event, a pair of buffalos is led to opposite sides of the festival grounds and is made to stand near two flags called Ngu Phung. As soon as the right signal is released, the two buffalos are led into the fighting circle. At the next signal, the two leaders release the ropes that are attached to the noses of the buffalos. With well-practiced movements, the buffalos rush into each other, using their fighting skills to decide the right to enter the next match while the spectators shout and urge the fighting along. Then, the winning buffalo goes to the next round till the final winner emerges. The matches varied in terms of time, depending on the strength and stamina of the buffalos. At the completion of the fight, the spectacle of “receiving the buffalos” is very interesting as the leaders must then catch the winning buffalo to grant it its reward.

The Buffalo Fighting in Do Son is traditional festival of Vietnam attached to a Water God worshipping ceremony and the “Hien Sinh” custom. The ceremony is held in every village and chaired by its patriarch to pray for the victory at the buffalo fight, typically express the martial spirit of the local people in Do Son, Hai Phong. In recent years, this traditional festival attracted not only local residents but also thousands of domestic and international tourists.

Source: Vietnam Culture

Retreat north to Do Temple

Posted by vietnamtravelblog on September 29, 2008 under Vietnam Festivals | Be the First to Comment

In 1998 a miracle occurred. As they do every year, thousands of worshippers, many in ancient dress, had marched to Den Do (Do Temple) to honour the eight Emperors of the Ly dynasty. But this year was different.

Wandering around: A dragon dance performance happens in front of Do temple’s Main Hall.

As the festival reached its climax, eight clouds exactly alike sketched a chain across a brilliant blue sky. To the believers, the clouds were incarnations of the Emperors themselves, looking down from on high at the splendid festival taking place in their memory.

But whether you believe this or not, Do Temple is certainly worth the relatively short trip from Hanoi.

Rise and fall

In Buddhist tradition, a pagoda is to worship Buddha and a temple is to worship a revered person of great importance – but just a person none the less.

Do Temple pays homage to all eight Ly dynasty Emperors (the sole Ly Queen – Ly Chieu Hoang – has her own private temple), but at centre stage is the first, Ly Thai To.

Ly Thai To seized control of Vietnam – then known as Dai Viet – in 1010, kick starting the Ly dynasty that was to reign over the country for more than 200 years.

After 1,000 years, Chinese rule of Vietnam had ended in AD938, but the Ly dynasty was the first to bring a stable period of independence to the country. Staunch Buddhists, the Ly Emperors governed with the rule of law rather than the blade of a sword, generating goodwill among the people.

Ly Thai To, who founded Thang Long (now Hanoi) as the capital of Dai Viet, sat on the throne until his death in 1028. In remembrance, his son and the new Emperor Ly Thai Tong had Do Temple constructed in 1030, close to where Ly Thai To was born.

As each subsequent Ly Emperor passed away, their statue moved in with their predecessors, each resplendent above an altar to their person. Last of the Ly leaders was Ly Chieu Hoang, who had the misfortune to preside upon the downfall of the dynasty, forced from power by the upstart Tran dynasty.

Flutter

Do Temple and its surrounding suffered heavy damage in 1952 during the war for independence from French colonial rule. However, in 1989 the temple was reborn, with designs saved from the 17th century used to build again.

The region around Do Temple is famous for its gooey husband and wife rice cakes, given to newlyweds at their wedding. Visitors to the temple have the chance to sample the cakes from the vendors that hang around its entrance.

As the cake traders flutter away, the temple complex reveals itself. Ahead, generous foliage mutes a broad checkerboard path, before the liberal shade ends abruptly at a clay-red crossroads.

To the left is the Dragons Gate, flanked by plump lion statues baring their canines in a wide grin. And to the right is an island pavilion echoing the classic curled eaves of Buddhist style.

Slink

Celebrate: Do Temple’s lake is known as a popular venue for Quan Ho singers.

Turning left, carved stone dragons slink beneath a smiling roof that shelters the gate’s heavy wooden doors, decorated with meandering dragons.

Past moustachioed guards, of the unblinking variety, is a scorched courtyard in front of the Worshipping House. Two more dragons slither up the sides of an incense burner made to last, their every movement monitored by a pair of kneeling elephants.

Under a flamboyant double-barrelled roof, two exhibitionist soldiers, clad in skimpy loincloths, motionlessly guard the first of many altars. Behind is the Sanctuary House, where the eight Ly Emperors sit on golden thrones in golden robes and before golden ornaments.

Staccato

Back at the crossroads, staccato music floats from the island pavilion, named Thuy Dinh, where a quartet of young women play to a detached audience. They sing local Quan Ho songs in minor key, accompanied by a sparse wooden xylophone.

During French colonial times, Thuy Dinh was so famous that it appeared on money issued by the Bank of Indochina, and nowadays it hosts water puppet theatrics when not a sound stage.

Thuy Dinh sits in the middle of a semi-circle lake, around which harvested rice grains dry in the autumn, destined for the famous cakes.

Do Temple is approximately 16km north-east of Hanoi, and is just outside Dinh Bang Village.

Chris James – Viet Nam News


OocOmBok Festival

Posted by vietnamtravelblog on August 18, 2008 under Vietnam Culture, Vietnam Festivals | Read the First Comment

Ooc-Om-Bok Festival is a religious service that worships the moon deity of the Khmer minority group and prays for good luck, happiness, good weather and bumper crops. The festival is usually held when the dry season begins and rice are ripening on the fields.
The Moon-worshipping ceremony takes place on the evening of 14th of tenth lunar month before the moon goes to the top. The ceremony is held in the yards of the pagoda or of residents’ houses. People erect bamboo poles with a crossbar on which they decorate with flowers and leaves. Below is a table of offerings that include green rice flakes, potatoes, bananas, coconuts, grapefruits, oranges and cakes. People sit on the ground with crossed legs, clasping their hands before the altar and look up the Moon. An old master of ceremonies says his prayers, asks the moon deity to receive the offerings and bless people with the best.
After the ceremony, the elders ask the children of the house sit flatly on the ground with crossed legs before the altar. The elders then take a handful of green rice, feed each child and ask them what they wish while clapping their backs. If the children answer the question clearly and politely, all the best will come to them that year. After that, people enjoy the offerings together, and children play games or dance and sing in the moonlight. Anyone who visits the Khmer’s houses on this occasion will be tasted com dep (a kind of young sticky rice). At the pagodas of Khmer people, locals hold paper-lantern releasing into the sky and putting on the rivers. The custom of releasing flying lights and floating lights is believed to sweep away the darkness, impure and sadness from the village. Many traditional activities of the Khmer are organized on the evening of 14th.