LE MAT VILLAGE FESTIVAL - A TYPICAL INTANGIBLE HERITAGE OF HANOI
Hanoi's traditional festivals are the quintessence that have been drawn, verified, and perfected throughout history. They are large in number, diverse in nuance, and unique in spiritual value and are considered part of the cultural heritage of Thang Long - Hanoi. On the celebration of Vietnam Cultural Heritage Day on November 23rd, 2015, Hanoi Museum organized the exhibition “Hanoi's Traditional Festivals” in collaboration with the Heritage Management Office and the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports.
The exhibition introduced some of the capital's traditional and unique festivals, such as: Va Temple Festival in Son Tay, Giong Festival in Soc Son, Le Mat Village Festival in Gia Lam, Hai Ba Trung Festival in Hat Mon - Phuc Tho, Luu Xa Village Festival, Chem Village Festival...
Le Mat Village Festival is one of 6 national intangible cultural festivals. The festival takes place on the 23rd day of Lunar March every year at Le Mat Communal House, Viet Hung ward, Long Bien district, to commemorate the village’s tutelary god Hoang Duc Trung. It is said that the young man Hoang Duc Trung in Le Mat found the body of the Ly princess after she was shipwrecked by a river monster. The king rewarded him with gold and silver, but he refused and only asked to take the poor people of Le Mat and the surrounding villages to the land west of Thang Long Citadel to build farms. That land gradually became rich (also known as Tru Mat village), expanding into 13 hamlets called the "Thirteen Camps" area (now in Ba Dinh district).
From the early morning of March 23rd, representatives of the descendants of 13 camps west of Thang Long Citadel carry 13 trays of offerings, brought from the capital to Le Mat village to attend the festival. It begins with the ritual of the procession of water and carps into the Holy Communal House, which reminds the young generations to remember the merits of those who openly brought farming to the village.
Le Mat Festival is celebrated with unique rituals and performances such as: " Procession of Water" from the village well, "Procession of Carps" into the Holy Communal House, "Procession of Dishes", "Snake dance", "Procession of Rooster and Pig", and a specialty food competition.
The most special part of the festival is the "Snake Dance". The snake is made of bamboo spokes roofed with cloth, symbolizing the river monster that was defeated by Hoang Duc Trung using his strength and willpower. "Fish Fighting" is also a very important ritual in the festival. It is performed by the young men of the village. After being presented to the Saint, sacred fish will be made into dishes to serve the Saint, of which the most important dish is fish salad.
Traditional festivals play a very important role in the spiritual life of the Hanoi people. It is an opportunity for people to return to their roots, show the strength of the community, meet the needs of creativity, and enjoy material and spiritual values. It is also a way to teach future generations how to preserve, inherit, and promote the precious traditional moral values of the country. It does this by combining spiritual elements with competitive and fun games.
With this exhibition, Hanoi Museum wished to convey the good cultural values and traditions of the country to every person who lives in the Capital, people nationwide, and international tourists who visit the Museum.
The exhibition was open from November 19th to December 15th, 2015.
Nguyễn Ngân – Thanh Hải