KVT gets into festival mood and real live art
I do love a parade. When I was knee high to a grasshopper I always joined in the periphery of the parade and followed the music and the color until it all wound down and became an echo… and the habit persists. Give me flags and a crowd…..
…..and bass drums that pound a solid beat and snare drums that rattatat to dancing feet and whistles and flutes that shrill on high….
…and I’ll follow the festival from when the town criers give the order to go …
…as it spills into the narrow village street lined with crowds and kids like me who don’t want the parade to stop passing by…..
….and along the 3 kilometers of narrow village main street, five meters wide …
….until it spills into the square below the pagoda…..
…. Between river mouth, where the boats of last years best fishermen are beribboned and flagged, and rugged headland.
It’s the fifth day of Tet and I’m in far south Thanh Hoa in the fishing village of Hai Thanh and the villagers are honoring the Emperor Quang Trung who, on the 5th day of the lunar new year in 1789 defeated an occupying Chinese army on the outskirts of Hanoi.
The six hamlets that make up the village join together in the early morning in the soccer stadium that is hemmed between the river and a crescent bay. The most upstanding members of each have been chosen to costume up and form a tableau of a couple of hundred paraders per hamlet to carry gifts and Tet wishes long and narrow three kilometers to the pagoda built to honor the emperor and that perches a couple of hundred steep steps up a small mountain where the river meets the East Sea.
Young women bear gifts on their heads or on plump cushions
Mandarins shaded by umbrellas follow
Scholars pay homage
Warriors bear arms
Matrons bear witness
Sacred sayings are held aloft
And heavy mahogany palanquins that shelter symbolic representations of the Emperor are carried by the most honored young men or women in each hamlet through the village and up the steep steps
So why the big fuss about Quang Trung in a village about 300 km from Hanoi?
Before the leader…then only called Nguyen Hai from near present day Saigon….defeated the Chinese and grabbed the throne, he sailed his army up the coast and stopped in Hai Thanh to recruit soldiers and after his victory awarded the village tax free status for a few years plus other privileges…so ever since he’s been honored every Tet. Though with the cost of mounting a big parade, its now only held once every five years and the costumes and paraphernalia are stored inn each Hamlet’s small Quang Trung temple.
Not that Quang Trung is the villages only claim to fame!
In 1627 French Catholic missionary, Alexandre De Rhodes (one of the main instigators of the modern Vietnamese script, quoc ngu) made the village his first Indo Chinese landfall and converted a group of the populace to become Vietnam’s first ethnic Christians
The large Catholic population of the village also celebrates the festival with a blessing of the Fleet parade and ceremony on the 4th day of Tet …Quang Trung was no religious bigot and welcomed men of all faiths into his waiting boats.
The question could be IS IT ART!!!?
SURE IS! Some of the best there’s likely to be.
|Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.|