Festival brings villages together

Published: 28/03/2010 05:00



The traditional festival is celebrated by villagers from Moc Quan Nhan, Moc Cu Chinh, Moc Giap Nhat, Moc Phung Khoang and Moc Chinh Kinh every five years.

Offerings: A procession during the Five Moc Villages Festival.

The festival of five Moc villages is held from the 9th-12th of the second lunar month but the people prepare for it months in advance. This year the festival started last Wednesday.

During the festival, village elders offer wine, flowers, fruit and incense to the gods each night.

The festival begins with a procession of palanquins and offerings that pass through the villages in Ha Noi’s Thanh Xuan District.

Each year, a different village plays host to the start of the procession from its communal house. This year, the procession started in the communal house of Giap Nhat and passed through the other villages before finally stopping at Cu Chinh, the next host in five years’ time.

The festival is held to commemorate the gods who helped the people defeat invaders and saved them from misfortune and danger, and also to pray for a prosperous life and good health, said Ngo Van Than, the head of the management board of Quan Nhan’s communal house.

The procession is the most important part of the festival in which all the villagers take part, he said. Through the ritual, the people believe that the gods will visit the villages and take care of the people.

After prolonged heavy beats of a large drum and gong, people start the procession. Five young men take the lead carrying flags symbolising the five basic elements of metal, wood, water, fire and earth, according to eastern philosophy. Four others brandishing festival flags follow behind. A steady beat of the large drum and gong is maintained as they are carried along with the masses.

A group of lion or dragon dancers reflecting strength and spirit go next to clear the road and cheer the people.

Boys aged between 13 and 15 push trolleys containing wooden horses and elephants as vehicles for the gods. Four singers and seven musicians perform to create a jubilant atmosphere.

Tens of old women wearing Buddhist dresses advance in quiet prayer. After the palanquins of the gods and their ancestral tablets, people follow respectfully with offerings on their heads. Eight red-lacquered wooden weapons are carried by strong men dressed as generals.

The four other villages take part in traditional processions to the host village where they are welcomed and invited to the host’s communal house to start the rituals.

When the formalities are completed, the people take part in various folk games and enjoy the festival.

To finish the festival, representatives from all five villages hold a thanksgiving ceremony and one last procession to encourage the gods to visit their own communal houses.

The large-scale festival is a chance for the people to play and express their respect for the gods. Trang said she felt happy and honoured to wear the colourful traditional long dress and take part in the procession. Last festival she was only 11 and too young to join in.

“Only good-looking, moral children can carry palanquins and offerings for the gods,” she says, “this year I was selected, that’s a great honour.”

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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