Dong Da Festival - Hanoi, Vietnam

 Dong Da Festival, Vietnam festivals: Dong Da hillock festival takes place annually on the 5th of Lunar New Year. This is a victorious festival, organized in memory of the King Quang Trung's great merit - the hero in national history of anti - invaders.

 Two centuries ago, Dong Da was a battlefield where Quang Trung (Nguyen Hue), a Tay Son farmer who later became a National Hero defeated more than 200,000 soldiers of the Qing invading army. Dong Da Hill became a glorious historical site of the Vietnamese nation.

In the early morning of the 5th day, a procession for the historical event's celebration commences at Khuong Thuong and ends at Dong Da Hill. The procession includes flags, a processional parasol, palanquins with a variety of colours, and the sounds of gongs and drums.
In the festival there are a lot of games representing martial spirit. Among them, the procession of Thang Long dragon is most original.

Khuong Thuong village communal house's gate is opened at the first gleam of daylight with pervasive fragrance of joss - stick. In front of the house, a big flag is hung to welcome the festival.

More than 200 years ago (1789) this was a bloody battlefield. In the small hours of the 5th of Ky Dau Lunar New Year (on the 29til and 30'1' of the 2nd month 1789). the camp of invaders in Khuong Thuong was destroyed, the invader. Ethnarch Dien Chau Sam Nghi Dong had to commit suicide here. Since then, Dong Da hillock became a famous relic of our people. It is also an evidence of shameful failure of the Northern enemies.

In the morning of the festival, all dignitaries and elders in the village gather fully to prepare for the great ceremony. Nearly 12 o'clock at the noon, from Khuong Thuong communal house to Dong Da hillock, everybody implement the procession of greeting the victory. The procession is long, beautiful. It moves slowly and orderly for people to revere detailedly the magnificent statue of the festival.

But the most attractive and youngest is the last group with "Fire Dragon". Young men in two villages Dong Quang and Khuong Thuong emulate to plait straw into shapes of big dragons ornamented by spathe and papier mache. A band of young people in uniform go around the procession of Fire Dragon and perform stick and fist with the aim at reappearing images of former battle and glorifing Tay Son righteous armier's buoyancy. This is an original amusement of Dong Da hillock festival.

Since the capital was liberated (October, 10th, 1954), Dong Da hillock festival has been regared as a traditional one - a national festival. Thus, every year, leaders of Party and State come to attend and preside at all rites of the festival. The national flag and flags of the festival fly flutteredly as greeting pilgrims. Oppositing the hillock is Dong Quang pagoda where smoke of joss - stick also spreads out and visitors go in and out plentifully. Here, priests make rice gruel for invaders1 spiritualists as a righteous action of our traditional virtue. People also offer flowers to celebrate in front of the King Quang Trung's statue.

After solemn rites are games and traditional art activities such as unicorn dancing, dragon dancing, wrestling, human chess, cock fighting... The home of the King Quang Trung - Nguyen Hue is Binh Khe district, Binh Dinh province. Here, people also build a temple for three brothers of Tay Son family to be Nguyen Nhac, Nguyen Hue and Nguyen Lu. Every year, also on the 5th of Lunar New Year, everybody from everywhere come to offer flowers and joss -sticks to represent their gratitude to heroes and righteous men and review glorious and pround history of our country. They also hold competitions of military or beating drums... very distinctively. Especially, participants are not only men but also women, so it attracts more and more visitors.

Nowadays, for Ha Noi people, visiting Dong Da hillock festival has become an indispensable need an early spring.

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