Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A festival honouring the worship of Tản Viên (the God of the Mountain), one of the Four Immortals in the Vietnamese legend, has been officially listed as one of Việt Nam’s national intangible cultural heritage.
Ba Vì District, on the outskirts of Hà Nội, received a certificate for the local Tản Viên festival’s new status from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism at a ceremony on Sunday, or the 10th day of the lunar year’s first month, which is part of the festival.
The festival was organised at a complex of Hạ (Low), Trung (Middle) and Thượng (Upper) temples in Ba Vì from February 23-25. The annual event featured traditional rituals, an incense offering ceremony, folk games, sports and musical performances, attracting thousands of visitors. It also kicked off the year for Ba Vì Tourism under the theme of "Cultural Rendezvous".
According to the legend in the northern delta, Tản Viên, also called Sơn Tinh, was the God of the Mountain and governed all creatures on land. He taught people to grow crops, hunt animals, catch fish, practise martial arts and hold festivals. Opposite Sơn Tinh was Thủy Tinh, the God of the Sea, responsible for the rising water levels that damaged crops, destroyed animals and drowned people.
Sơn Tinh beat Thủy Tinh in a competition to win the heart of Princess Mỵ Nương who was the daughter of the King Hùng XVIII.
Nguyễn Đức Nghĩa, head of the Culture and Information Bureau under the Ba Vì District People’s Committee, said Tản Viên is the god of the Vietnamese people that embodies the aspiration to triumph over natural disasters, especially floods.
“The God of the Mountain is worshipped in many localities in the northern region in general and in Ba Vì District in particular,” he said.
In Vietnamese folklore, Tản Viên is one of the four immortals, along with Chử Đồng Tử, who taught the people to catch fish and grow crops; Saint Gióng, who beat foreign invaders to protect his homeland; and Goddess Liễu Hạnh, the deity of the Mother Goddess worship.
The same day, a similar national culture intangible heritage certificate was bestowed upon the Trò Chiềng festival in the central province of Thanh Hóa. The event is considered the most anticipated festival in Thanh Hóa, which has been held since the rule of the Lý Dynasty.
The founder of the festival is General Trịnh Quốc Bảo, who served during the reign of King Lý Thánh Tông (1054-1072) and defeated the Chiêm Thành (Champa) invaders. To prepare for the fight against the invaders, who used elephant troops, the general ordered his soldiers to build bamboo elephants to practice with. During the battle, bamboo elephants which were glued with fireworks attached to them were burned, helping to defeat the invaders’ troops.
A martial arts game with bamboo elephants was reproduced at the festival to welcome the coming of spring in 1068 and was held by villagers of Trịnh Xá Willage, Yên Định District. Currently, the villagers hold the festival on the 10th-12th of the Lunar New Year’s first month.
The festival is organised on a large scale with folk games and cultural activities, including a paper elephant fighting competition, in which groups of men hoisting paper elephants attempt to topple each other. — VNS