The Vietnamese heritage is rich and diverse culture, but mysterious as well. Although I celebrate holidays such as Lunar New Year and Moon festivals, they are mostly associated with the entire Asian culture rather than the Vietnamese culture itself. So I decided to find anything related to Vietnam under UNESCO’s website. What I found was a strange festival called the Gióng festival which takes place at the Phù Ðông and Sóc temples.
It is a festival celebrated annually in the capital of Vietnam Hanoi. Every spring before a rice harvest, the Vietnamese community would honor the mythical hero, god, and saint Thánh Gióng. This hero was responsible for defending Vietnam from foreign enemies and worshipped as a god of harvest, peace, and family prosperity. The festival honors Thánh Gióng by recreating the famous battle that took place by riding a white horse and performing flag dances. There is also a belief that if it rains after the festival it is considered a blessing from Thánh Gióng for the harvest.
There is also a folk lore of Thánh Gióng that is associated with the festival. The folk lore tells the story of how Thánh Gióng was born when his mother stepped on a giant’s foot print and how he defeated the foreign enemies. The story does seem unbelievable and cannot be the reason why the festival was inscribed on to UNESO’s list.
The festival was inscribed due to being an intangible cultural heritage of humanity for passing down the performances for thousands of years. The flag masters, drum masters, and gong masters are trained in accordance to the regulations of the past. Not only that the festival also represents the Vietnamese community morals of family, the nation, and peace.
Although the festival is based on a mythical hero that is based on fiction, it does demonstrate how the Vietnamese used oral stories by establishing performances, which have been passed down to different generations. This has also reflected on me by helping me find my heritage, which was lost, but rediscovered as a new experience.