TOURISM
TRADITIONAL FESTIVALS AND CULTURES



  1. TRADITIONAL FESTIVAL

    1.1 KY YEN FESTIVAL
Ky Yen festial often lasts 2 days and 1 night with the main ceremonies such as the ceremony to invite Gods ceremony, ceremony of Shennong – the God of agriculture, communal house, Tuc yet ceremony, Chanh te ceremony, ceremony to greet Tien hien, Hau hien, and the passed away Members; and the ceremony to send off Gods.This festival’s purpose is to invite and greet Gods in the communal house in order to pray for the peace of country and citizens, wealthiness and auspiciousness.

The communal houses which consist altars of the ancestors Tien hien, Hau hien who gathered people and established villages or put their own money to build the first public welfare facilities in order to set good examples for their offsprings. To sum up, Ky Yen festival is considered a celebrating ceremony of villages.

The ceremonies are quite similar with one time of thurifying incense, three times of thurifying wine, and one time thurifying tea. After each ceremony, there is always a praying speech instead of ordinary prayers, and the speech’s content is mainly about high worship for the Gods and prayers for villagers. While the speech is being read, a band of instruments is essential which include a wooden bell, a gong, a drum, and an ordinary bell.

In fact, in Ky Yen festiaval, the “ceremony” part takes up a more important role than the “festival” part. The main characters to celebrate are a variety of Gods not only the Gods worshipped in communal houses.

Ky Yen festival is a good event for villagers to gather and chat about their happy families and hang out together. Previously, there used to be a custom that every three years villagers hold an event for classical theatre and trurify Gods in order to cheer people up. These customs are all meant to promote communal spirit. In Ky Yen festival, singing is in a formal ceremony style than an ordinary style. Singing content needs to tell about moral lessons with happy endings.

Ky Yen festival is also a good event for craftmen to perform their cleverness in decorating flowers and fruits. This is also a good opportunity for farmers to introduce their new fruit products or new seeds of glutinous rice which have been nurtured by female villagers’ skillful hands. However, party in Ky Yen festival is mainly about gathering and expressing generosity; drinking wine and hard partying are absolutely unacceptable.


  1.2 THE FESTIVAL OF WORSHIPPING COMMUNAL HOUSE
The festival of workshiping communal house is simple and rural since all male, female, old and young villagers can participate in thurifying ceremony. Their sacred offerings reflect the villagers’ worship for the Gods.

Festivals of workshipping communal houses attract a great number of visitors to come and carry out thurifying activity every year.

The program of festival of worshipping communal house is the reduced form of Ky Yen festival. There are three types of thurifying activities depending on the subjects of worshipping communal houses which include worshipping the Male God, the Ghost, and the Goddess.

Worshipping the Male God: Male God communal house worships the male gods originated from Han-Vietnamese culture including Guan Yu, God of Land, and Shennong (God of Agriculture). The ceremony to celebrate Male God is based on confusianism and includes the ceremonies of Inviting the Dust (inviting the censer from the main temple to communal house expressing the meaning of inviting the Gods to the ceremony), Tien Yen thurifying, the Main Thurifying, Thurifying the occupational ancestors, and Tien Vang (the ancestors who laid a foundation of the villages, and established the communal houses). Villages with good financial conditions may perform the ceremonies with ceremonial instruments, and the spokepersons, etc instead of normal rituals. Except for communal houses of Guan Yu which require three soul days of ritual (the birth soul on 13 Jan of lunar year, the death soul on 13 May, and the sacred soul on 23 June); the communal houses of God of Land and Shennong include only two days of rituals which are spring and autumn thurifying rituals, the lower Land ceremony, and the upper Land ceremony. These soul dates are not corresponding and depend on local regulations.




Festivals of workshipping communal houses attract a great number of visitors

Thurifying Ghost ritual: this ritual’s program is similar to the one of Male God. Additionally, this ritual also requires invitation of the monks to pray for the Ghosts to be saved. There are three thurifying Ghost rituals in a year including the 15th and 16th of lunar January, of lunar October, and the most special dates are 15th and 16th of lunar July which are considered as the indispensable times of special reprieve and forgiveness.

Thurifying Goddess: in Vinh Long, there are many communal houses which worship “Seven Gods Queen”, “Tian Hou Sheng Mu”, etc All of these houses apply the ceremony of thurifying the Thien Y Ana Goddess. The worshipping Goddess ceremony includes rituals to invite Goddesses of Land and Water, Thurifying the occupational ancestors, and Tien Vang (the ancestors who laid a foundation of the villages, and established the communal houses), Tien Yen thurifying, the Main Thurifying. Especially, since Thien Y Ana Goddess belongs the Cham religion, there used to be a custom of inviting clairvoyants to sing and dance a ceremony. All these rituals require a beginning of ritual instruments. In some villages, people even invite monks to chant the prayers for peacefulness.

Village-based festivals in the communal houses contain both religious and gratitude spirits, and also are good events for villagers to gather and promote solidarity. At some aspects, the festivals’performing forms offer both ceremonial and art mechanisms which meet the villager’s requirements of festivals. Besides, thanks to the rurality of local communal houses, these festivals attract a great number of visitors who come to thurify.


    1.3 CHOL CHNAM THMAY FESTIVAL
Chol Chnam Thmay - the festival to celebrate Kh’mer new year- is held in the middle of lunar March every year. This is the intersection period between sunny and rainy seasons – also the time to begin an agricultural harvest based on Kh’mer traditional agricultural calendar. Therefore, Chol Chnam Thmay is also considered as the event to celebrate new harvest in the year.

Chol Chnam Thmay, which is held in pagodas and in eah family, is one of the most important festivals in the year. The festival lasts in three days: the first day is called “sangkran” , in other words, it is the day to “greet the Great calendar” (Maha sangkran) with the meaning of greeting new year and its ceremony is closely intertwined with Thomabal and Kabil Maha Prum legend; the second day is “wonbot” when everone go to pagodas for thurifying the Buddhas and offering foods for the monks; the third day is “Lơn sak” with the main rituals of praying for souls’ peacefulness and “bathing” Buddha statues.

On the third day, in front of Buddha statues, the monks chant the attrition and then soak a flower into scented water in order to “bath” the Buddha statue by splashing scented water on the statue. After that, everone takes turn to thurifying the Buddha. The buddhists also plash scented water on the monks to show their respects and then plashing this water on each other to greet and pray for good lucks since water is the symbol of wealth and good lucks in Kh’mer belief. This is the ending ritual of Chol Chnam Thmay festival and also the continuity of new year’s celabrations.




Chol Chnam Thmay - the festival to celebrate Kh’mer




    1.4 DONTA FESTIVAL
Donta Festival – one of the most important Kh’mer festivals - is held in the end of lunar August and considered as the second “Tet holiday” in a year. Donta festival starts from 16 lunar August and finishes at the end of of this month every year. During this time, Kh’mer families often bring rice, fruit, and cake, etc to pagodas in order for the monks to carry out thurifying and saving ritual for souls of the dead.

Donta festival’s main date is called a “phchumbanh” day (day of cake contribution) since its main activity is the contribution of food to thurify souls of the dead and ghosts; moreover, these contributed food is also used in communal meals, especially with “baibanh” (rice or glutinous rice balls). After finishing rituals in pagodas at the morning of phchum banh day, everone gets back to home to carry out thurifying for their ancestors, and this ritual is called “senchaktum”. People prepare banquets, light up the oil lamps and censes to thurify the ancestors and pray for their souls attrition and blessings for their offsprings.

Overall, based on the rituals, time, and organizing methods, it can be easily seen that Donta festival is the combination of agricultural rituals, thurifying ancestors, and the ritual to pray for souls’ attrition of Buddhism. This combination helps upgrade Donta festival’s importance in the communal festival system of Kh’mer people in Vinh Long.

On the people’s spiritual issue, festivals are considered as affective lines where people can share gratitude to their ancestors, religious beliefs and hopes for the future, etc. With this meaning, all festivals in Vinh Long successfully reflect the characteristics of the land where three nations including Viet, Chinese and Kh’mer are living in solidarity and intimate connection.


  2. CULTURE

    2.1 Amateur Singing
Over 100 yeas ago, from the origin of ritual music, “nhã nhạc” in Hue Palaces, and folklore literacy, Southern amateur singing was born. The heritage of this type of music has become much thicker and populous which can expres people’s psychology, affection, and local life in Mekong delta.

This music type is often performed in families who love amateur singing, or weddings, death anniversaries, birthday parties, communal house festivals, and after harvesting, etc. Overall, amateur singing can be performed at anyplace and anytime. However, if it is sang in full-moon nights in the middle of the village, it can easily create empathy between amateurs singers and people who love traditional music.

Most of people who join in amateur singing are friends and neighbors. Since they gather in order to share this elegant hobby, they do not care much about the outfits. They often wear casual clothes while performing. In special occasions at communal houses or on stages, they will pay attention on more formal and appropriate outfits. In these recent years, in order to meet tourists’ need, many amateur singing groups are combined into clubs which are semi-professional. They are always available at singing when they receive the requests. On daily routines, they all go back to their normal life.

There are approximately hundreds of teams, groups, and clubs of amateur. Among them, Golden Rose group, Truong An group, Cuu Long Tourism club, and the club of singing Vinh Long Center of Cultural and Information, etc are the most well-known representatives. They also occasionally attend at competitions held internally in Vinh Long or externally in other places. They always practice very hard everyday and perform for their friends and soulmates here and there to enjoy.

Southern amateur singing in Vinh Long is not only a spiritual daily menu of local people but also a “speciality” to treat tourists when they come to a trip in Vinh Long.