Giong Festival expected to be recognised world intangible cultural heritage
The Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism has been asked to consider the proposal, which if accepted would put the Vietnam Culture and Art Institute in charge of creating a dossier for submission to UNESCO in August.
The Giong Festival is held from the sixth to the 12th day of the fourth lunar month every year at Phu Dong (or Giong) Village in Gia Lam District, Hanoi, as well as in some other regions of the capital including Phu Ninh Village in Soc Son District and Xuan Dinh Village of Tu Liem District. The main festival day is on the 9th day of the month.
The festival is original, because it commemorates a legendary character that ancient Vietnamese turned into an immortal saint, according to Professor Nguyen Chi Ben, head of the Vietnam ’s Culture and Art Institute.
Cultural researcher Ben said: "This is not only the biggest festival in the capital city, but also the biggest in the entire northern plain."
The festival celebrates Saint Giong, a legendary Vietnamese hero who fought against the northern invaders.
The legend says that once upon a time, a poor woman from Giong Village went to the rice paddy and saw a giant step. Curious, she stepped onto the step; not long after, she discovered she was pregnant and then gave birth to a son she named Giong. As a three-year old, the boy still didn’t know how to speak and never laughed. But when the country was invaded, the boy suddenly began to speak and asked the King to give him an iron horse, an iron suit of armour and an iron rod, so that he could fight against the invaders. He then rose up to become a giant.
After having fought triumphantly the enemy, he and his horse went to Soc Mountain . On the mountain top, he removed his armour and flew into the sky with his horse.
This festival is considered one more testament to the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese nation when pitted against foreign invaders.
Festival performances recount Saint Giong’s celebrated battles as his troops squared off against the aggressors, symbolised by crowds of people from four communes in Phu Dong Village .
The festival also involves young boys and girls acting out the performance’s most important parts, after having practiced for the festival all year./.