Đà Nẵng — The fish-worshipping festival of the central city has been recognised as one of seven National Intangible Heritage items by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The central city has restored 12 annual fish-worshipping festivals at fishing villages in the beach districts of Liên Chiểu, Thanh Khê, Ngũ Hành Sơn and Sơn Trà.
It’s the third National Cultural Intangible Heritage designation for the city after the Stone Arts Sculpture of Non Nước craft village in Ngũ Hành Sơn district in 2014 and Tuồng Xứ Quảng (Quảng Nam’s classic drama) in 2015.
The annual festival, known as the Whale Worshipping (Lễ Hội Cầu Ngư), has been an indispensable part of life in fishing villages in the city and is an important spiritual and cultural event, staged in the hope of winning favour with the sea god.
The earliest festival was first held in 1893 in Thanh Khê village, home to 3,200 fishermen. The festivals are mostly held in the middle of the first lunar month, which is the start of the fishing season, and most trawlers go to sea as soon as the festival ends.
Local fishermen launched 300 paper flower garlands to sea to pray for the dead and to the god of the sea. Fishermen believe by so doing they will have a safe year and good catches.
The central attraction of the festival sees elderly fishermen carrying a sedan in a procession from the sea to the beach.
The god of the sea is presented with an offering of a boiled pig’s head and three trays of food and fruits.
The festival is organised along with local folk games, the weaving of fishing nets, a coracle race and local food delicacies.
Each fishing village along the beaches of Đà Nẵng build a temple to worship the god of the sea, where a whale’s skeleton is buried.
Đà Nẵng has 15,000sq.km of fishing grounds, and a fleet of 2,300 boats, of which 699 are deep-sea trawlers.
According to the ministry, seven intangible heritages items have been given to crafts and festivals nationwide, including the bamboo craft village of Xuân Lai commune in Bắc Ninh Province, the Whale Festival in Bình Đại Commune of Bến Tre Province, the Festival of Female General Lê Chân in Hải Phòng, the commemorative festival of National Hero Trương Định in Tiền Giang Province, the ancient manuscript collection of the Thái ethnic group in Sơn La Province, and the Cái Răng Floating Market in Cần Thơ Province. — VNS
God of the sea: Fishermen from Thanh Khê fishing village in the central city of Đà Nẵng join in the annual fish-worshipping festival (Lễ Hội Cầu Ngư) on the beach of Thanh Khê. The annual festivals at 12 fishing villages in the city have been recognised as one of seven National Intangible Heritage items by the ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. VNS Photos Lê Lâm