|Ethnic Mong artists from Ha Giang Province perform during the three-day Viet Nam Ethnic Groups Cultural Days held at the Vietnamese Ethnic Culture and Tourism Village on the outskirts of Ha Noi — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
by Minh Thu
HA NOI (VNS) — With a colourful performance featuring representatives of eight ethnic groups from the northern highlands, Viet Nam Ethnic Groups Cultural Day was off to an exciting start on Friday night.
The three-day festival, held at the Vietnamese Ethnic Groups Culture and Tourism Village on the outskirts of Ha Noi, marked the solidarity between the country's 54 ethnic groups while celebrating their unique traditions.
Through music, song and dance, ethnic groups displayed their unique cultural traditions. These included the Ka Te (New Year) Festival of the Cham, gong music of the Central Highlands, southern folk songs accompanied by musical instruments and Thai xoe dancing, in which people hold hands and dance in a circle.
Viet Nam Ethnic Groups Cultural Day was observed for the first time on April 19.
"In five years, the anniversary has become a significant cultural activity for ethnic communities," said Hoang Tuan Anh,Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, who organised the event. "It affirms the vitality and uniqueness of ethnic groups' cultures."
During the opening ceremony, he expressed gratitude to local authorities and the people who worked tirelessly to preserve and promote ethnic groups' culture.
A market like those in northern mountainous regions was held as part of the Cultural Day activities. The three-day market featured local specialties and ethnic handicrafts along with traditional costumes, musical instruments, dancing, singing and folk games.
Vi Thi Oanh, a Thai woman from the northern province of Hoa Binh, ran a brocade-weaving stall at the market along with her handicraft co-operative of 30 members. For her, making a profit was less important than introducing the age-old craft to new eyes.
"So many visitors wanted to buy my products on the first day of the festival that I sometimes had to refuse to sell," she said. "If those products sold out, the visitors who came in the next few days wouldn't get a chance to see my ethnic group's unique brocade weaving tradition."
The women combined their traditional motifs with new designs to make unique handicraft products such as bags, wallets, clothes, scarves, carpets and souvenirs. The products were intended for export to other provinces and foreign markets like Japan and China, as well as for tourists.
Oanh has attended many fairs to promote her brocade products, but this is the first time she's been to this particular market.
"I had this special feeling like I was home when I saw houses on stilts here," she said. "I felt comfortable meeting other ethnic people and introducing them to the traditional trade of my group."
Luong Van Dom, a Dao ethnic man from the northern province of Son La, said it was the first time he had visited the capital.
"All of my people want to visit the capital once. The fact that I not only get to come here but also to join an ethnic market makes me so happy," he said. "This is a very meaningful event for ethnic people like us, because it allows us to meet and learn about one another's traditions."
For ethnic people in northern mountainous regions, a market is not simply a place to buy and sell. Many come to enjoy regional specialties, ethnic culture, folk games and cuisine in addition to performing folk songs and dances to find lovers and date, said Hoang Duc Hau, head of the Ethnic Culture Department.
"We hope that visitors will learn more about northern ethnic peoples' cultures through the market," he said.
A workshop entitled Ethnic Youth and the Inheritance and Promotion of Traditional Vietnamese Family Values also marked the occasion.
Delegations of young ethnic people spoke out on domestic violence, training young people in traditional culture and abolishing social evils. They expressed their determination to make their communities stronger.
Ethnic Groups Cultural Day was also celebrated in the southern province of Hau Giang on Friday. Programming included a photography exhibition on the province's achievements over the last 10 years and documentary films on ethnic minorities living in the region.
Binh Dinh Province held its Ethnic Minority Cultural and Sporting Day in Van Canh town, bringing together 600 actors, artists and athletes from six districts in the province who took part in a variety of activities including folk singing and dancing, a gong performance and traditional games.—VNS