Viet Nam News
NGHỆ AN — A series of cultural festivities are being held across the central coastal province of Nghệ An during the first month of the lunar new year, of which the fish-worshipping festival at Cờn Temple in Quỳnh Lưu District is one of the highlights.
Cờn Temple is believed to be the most beautiful place where the fish-worshipping festival is held, including many sacred traditions, local residents and authority officials have said.
The Cờn Temple fish-worshipping festival is a very special cultural and historical event in Nghệ An, which has been preserved by local people and fishermen in Hoàng Mai Town for hundreds of years with the hope of welcoming a new year of prosperity and safe fishing at sea, as well as health and happiness.
Currently, Hoàng Mai Town has nearly 500 fishing boats, more than 5,000 sea fishermen and thousands of other local people performing inland work such as purchasing and processing fish products.
This year, Hoàng Mai authorities organised the two-day temple festival on January 20-21 of the lunar calendar, or March 7-8 of the solar calendar, with many activities featuring the life and work of fishermen in the coastal countryside of Nghệ An Province.
The festival begins in the very early morning with crowds of people gathering at the main temple to perform the feast. They offered incense and prayed for their fishing ancestors to support them in the coming fishing season. After that, they began marching to the beach adjacent to the two communes of Quỳnh Liên and Quỳnh Phương to focus on the major activities of fish-worship.
Attendees banged gongs and drums, accompanied by young people cheering and carrying a palanquin towards the sea.
Nothing fishy: As part of the Cờn Temple fish-worshipping festival, young people carry a palanquin towards the sea. — VNA/VNS Photo Tá Chuyên
The young, most of whom are the strongest fishermen, tossed the palanquin over the high waves and chanted local slogans. The noise contributed to a sense of excitement for the participants.
When people were marching towards the beach close to the temple, a team of fishermen conducted ritual praying for good weather, safety and luck.
The ritual praying ended after a group of young fishermen tried to plunder the worship items and distribute them to others.
This act was traditionally meant to show the fishermen’s desire for fortune, health and prosperity in the new year.
In parallel with the inland march, eight fishing boats decorated by the fishermen were also dispatching sailing towards the sea under the direction of the president of the fishermen’s union. The boats were sailing at a distance of 50 metres from each other, from the main temple to the sea and back again.
Bùi Văn Chinh, 70, an old fisherman from Quỳnh Phương Ward said he and his relatives participated in the festival every year as it was a very important spiritual activity in their profession.
“The festival at Cờn Temple is one of the most important ritual activities for my family and others because it strengthens our belief in our ancestors’ support for our career.” said Chinh.
Tô Huy Hùng, vice chairman of Hoang Mai Town’s People’s Committee and chief organiser of the festival, said Cờn Temple was one of the most sacred shrines in Nghê An Province thus it attracted thousands of visitors.
The visitors also joined in with locals at the festival, Hùng said.
They offered incense and admired the traditional fishing culture of the people of coastal Hoang Mai Town, he added.
Cờn Temple, honouring the four thánh nương (goddesses), was built in the 12th century under the Trần Dynasty, and was developed in the Lê period, before undergoing significant restoration under the Nguyễn Dynasty.
The cultural authorities of Hoàng Mai Town are actively promoting local people to preserve the traditional culture of the Cờn Temple festival, at the same time making it central to tourism development, according to a local authority official. — VNS