Festivals and Holidays

Apart from national and international holidays, Ben Tre has some local festivals. Briefly, there are three most interested festivals, namely the Nghinh Ong Festival, the Nguyen Dinh Chieu Memorial Day and the Dong Khoi Anniversary, each has its own social and historical significance to the public life in Ben Tre.

The most notable of all is the Nghinh Ong (Dolphin Greeting) Festival, which takes place on 15th and 16th days of the Sixth Lunar month in Binh Thang Commune, Binh Dai District. The second is the Nguyen Dinh Chieu Memorial Day on July 1 of the year. This holiday is held in An Duc Commune, Ba Tri District, where the Teacher-Poet is lying in rest for more than a hundred years. After Viet Nam's Reunification in 1975, with supports from the Central Government, Ben Tre has rennovated Nguyen Dinh Chieu's Tomb into a Memorial Complex, a meaningful effort to celebrate and honour the great poet who devoted all his life to support poor people in the rural community where he was once living and teaching Confucianism. Nguyen Dinh Chieu was not only one of the great poets who put forth his poetic power to fight the French invaders but also a whole-hearted Confucian Teacher and physician of the late nineteen cetury.

Besides, there also traditionally is the Dong Khoi Anniversary on January 17. Especially, it is held around the Lunar New Year Holiday, or Tet, thus makes it attractive to massive public.

Nghinh Ong (Dolphin Greeting) Festival

  • Location: in the coastal Binh Thang Commune, Binh Dai District.
  • Date: on 15th and 16th days of the Sixth Lunar month every year.

This is the largest festival in Ben Tre. Its significance is for the local fishermen to worship and celebrate the sacred merit of the Dolphin they regard as "Ong"- their rescuer and saviour whenever they face with mishaps and adversities on the high sea.

On the days of Festival, it is a must that all fishing boats and fishermen, wherever they are at the moment, completely stop their work and gather to the seashore in Binh Thang Commune. There, hundreds of local fishing boats and boats from the neighbouring localities such as Ba Tri, Thanh Phu, Tra Vinh, Tien Giang, and even Can Gio (Ho Chi Minh City), coming to the yearly ritual offering.

On ritual services, participant boats are brilliantly decorated with lanterns and flowers. At the prow of each boat, there is a tray of offerings including fruits, steamed glutinous rice, a pair of boiled ducks, a pig head and some other ritual items. On the first festival day, there is the "Pray for Peace" Ceremony held by the fishermen at the Ong Temple. The two ceremonial priests lead the crowd of worshippers throughout the day. This is the opening preparation for the main part on the second day.

On the second day the main ceremony called the "Greeting Rites" will be held early in the morning, drawing the attention of all fishermen and people who live on fishing. From the Ong Temple, the crowd of worshippers following the priests carrying ritual things onto boats made ready for the offshore rites. The leader boat goes first of all, next goes the boat of unicorn performers, then come a flock of hundreds of boats, all sail out into the high sea and carry out the formal rites out there. Then, the priests keep quiet in wait for the Dolphin to surface. It is thought among people here that luck and happiness would be delivered on the whole village for the whole year if "Ong" surfaces during the ritual time. Then fireworks are set off to begin a rollicking time lasting till the whole flock of boats return to the shore. Here, the chief ceremonial priest will leads the final rites at the Ong Temple, called the "Forefather Celebration", in request for well-being and good fishing season.

 

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