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Festival Season

10:23 | 23/03/2012

Vietnam has more than 60 ethnic minorities, each with its own dialects, costumes, and cultures, living scattered over the country for centuries.

Despite such differences these groups have something in common to share and enjoy. Like many other Asian countries, every year starts with the cultivation of a new crop of wet rice – the main source of food in Vietnam - which is celebrated in the form of religious rituals by ethnic groups to express their gratitude and respect to the gods.

The Dao in Ha Giang province regularly holds a spring festival on Lunar New Year’s Day to pray for good weather and a bumper crop. The Long Tong (Going to the Field) festival of the Thai ethnic minority, which takes place in Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, and Bac Kan provinces, is a unique event to worship the gods and also bring people in the community together to feast and play games.

Other Spring festivals also take place around the capital city of Hanoi, most of them at pagodas or temples and some at villages near the Red River.  Local people in colourful traditional clothes join a procession to the river where they collect water and take it back to their pagoda or temple. This is considered a holy ritual for full blessing of peace, good luck, and prosperity.

There are many places of interest in Hanoi for people to visit before or after the Lunar New Year festival (Tet). The oldest and most sacred pagodas in the city are Quan Thanh, Kim Lien, Bach Ma, and Voi Phuc, known as the Four Guardians of the capital. They are the symbols of Vietnamese Buddhist, history and unique traditional architecture.

Hanoi's neighbouring provinces have their own distinct attractions. The Lim festival on the 13th day of the first lunar month in Lim village, Bac Ninh province, only 30 minutes by motorbike from Hanoi, offers a glimpse of “quan ho” folksongs. 50 km from the centre of the capital, the Perfume Pagoda, held every year from the 6th day of the first to the third lunar months, draws large numbers of pilgrims.

Ethnic minority group in Vietnam proudly boast their distinct cultures. There is one ancient story about a boy and girl who fell in love despite the disapproval of their families and tribes, and the deep streams and high mountains that separated them. Khau Vai, in Ha Giang province, where they were believed to meet has become a special place for young lovers today. On the 26th and 27th of the third lunar month, a big market is open in Khau Vai. In the northern town of Sapa, a "Love Market" (chợ tình) is held every weekend, where no one seems to be jealous and spouses are allowed to be with a third person. No one knows for sure how long these customs have existed, but they remain unchanged with the passage of time.

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