BẮC NINH — The Lim Festival featuring quan họ (love duet singing) kicked off yesterday, the 12th day of the lunar new year, in the northern province of Bắc Ninh, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the country.
Festival goers could indulge in the melodies of love duet songs performed by local artists on the main stage of the festival, along with six booths in Lim Hill as well as on boats in local ponds and lakes, communal houses, pagodas and artists’ houses in 10 villages near the hill.
Folk games like breaking pots, wrestling, Phù Lãng pottery and Đông Hồ paintings were also exhibited.
Nguyễn Thúy Hạnh from Thanh Xuân District, Hà Nội arrived at the Lim Festival on Monday. “My friends and I often choose Lim Festival as the first destination for the new year,” Hạnh said. “This year, we rented áo tứ thân (four-flap dress) to take photos. We will also wait until night to watch local veteran artists perform at their houses.”
Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, Head of the Tiên Du District’s Culture and Information Department and deputy head of the organising board, said, “This year, the number of visitors to the Lim Festival is expected to increase. We have strengthened staff forces to ensure the festival occurs in order and smoothly.”
About 500 security officers were mobilised.
This year, all forms of asking festival-goers for tips are banned. All singers are supposed to sing love duets only. Other art forms like chèo (traditional opera) and chầu văn (ceremonial singing) are not encouraged. The use of excessively loud microphones and beggars are prohibited.
Cork fighting and betting are not allowed as these games are easily turned into gambling by players.
From Saturday to Monday, Bắc Ninh also organised 2018 Quan Họ Singing Contest with more than 300 actors, actresses and musicians competing in quan họ stage competition and 106 amateur and professional quan họ singers performing 150 ancient love duet songs.
Quan họ was recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2009.
There are believed to be 49 original quan họ villages where quan họ was performed and preserved continually; 44 of these villages now lie in Bắc Ninh province.
While performing love duets, female singers traditionally wear distinctive large round hats and scarves. The men’s costumes include turbans, umbrellas and tunics.
The more than 400 song lyrics, sung with 213 different melody variations, express people’s emotional states of longing and sadness upon separation, and the happiness of the meeting of lovers. Custom forbids marrying a singing partner.
Quan họ singing is common at rituals, festivals, competitions and informal gatherings, where guests will perform a variety of verses for their hosts before singing farewell. — VNS