Getting down and dirty with mud wrestling

Update: May, 13/2014 - 10:29
Local men in Yen Vien Village, Van Ha Commune in Viet Yen District in the northern province of Bac Giang compete for a ball at a traditional Ball Catching in Mud Festival. The annual event is held between the 12th and 14th days of the fourth lunar month (between May 10 and 12) to wish for a lucky and prosperous year. Viet Nam News showcases a series of photos taken by photographer Truong Van Vi at the event.


The umpire leads two teams to the muddy yard. Each team comprises eight young men wearing only loincloths.
Before the game begins, they burn incense and pray for blessings at the village temple.
Each player drinks three bowls of rice wine before joining a wrestling match.
An umpire brings a 20-kilogram wooden ball, which has been kept carefully in a chamber at the back of the temple. It is taken out once every two years only for the festival.
 The 200-square-metre yard is filled with wet mud. At either ends of the yard, two 80-centimetre-deep and 50-centimetre-wide holes are the dug to represent the goal.

Before the match, representatives from both teams have a wrestling bout. The winner's team will then get the ball first.

The match is made more dramatic with the slippery mud and the rapid drum beats. The players fight for the 40-centimetre-diameter wooden ball and try to score by pushing the ball into the goal of their opponents.
Trying to gain possession of a 20-kilogram wooden ball in a muddy yard is not easy for anyone.

A young man hugs the ball. He is carried in triumph.

A player washes his face during the five-minute break.
The audience uses canvas to prevent the mud from splashing over their clothes.
The muddy yard is in front of the temple where the worship normally takes place.
It is an interesting local game which attracts people from the village and the neighboring areas.
A man with a muddy face

There are smiles of victory after the three-hour long match ends. — Photo VNS