Hanoi festivals present the time for people to engage in several activities of entertainment and pleasure. Some celebrations are held to welcome the New Year or the new harvesting season according to the lunar calendar and some are more like events highlighting the richness of the culture and traditions of the Hanoi community and remembering its past when people faced many hardships. Most of the time these festivals are followed by captivating narratives of the ancient legends and folklore associated with the origin of these festivals.
There are various events held all across the land throughout the year. Some of the most colourful ones are Chem Temple Festival, The Tet Festival, Giong Festival, Whale Festival, Lim Festival, Tra CO Village Festival and Keo Pagoda Festival. Most of these festivals begin in the evening with lights and festoons and continue on for several days.
Chem Temple festival is celebrated every year as a tribute to the hero Ly Than for saving the country at battles during Hung King Dynasty. Each year a vibrant ceremony is organized with processions of boats, elephants, horses and chariots and it concludes in an impressive ritual at the communal house. The Tet Festival which is celebrated at the beginning of the lunar year is one of the major festivals enjoyed by both locals as well as foreigners. It is simply the New Year celebrations in Vitenam. It is a prolonged event and can be described as more of a ‘friends and family’ festival. Giong Festival is a national event celebrated in Hanoi as it represents the patriotism of the Vietnamese, their respect for independence and gratefulness for their heroes.
The Whale Festival is regarded as the most outstanding water festival among the fisherman of the Vietnam. It is an event which goes on for two days and it is held as a commemorative festival to the Whale God. A significant feature of this popular water festival is beautifying the whale temple and all the village houses and boats of the fishermen.
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The concept of water-puppetry is unique to Vietnam, and a traditional water-puppet show is a must for all visitors to the country. This form of art is very entertaining and it is also the ideal way to experience the culture and aesthetics of the country.
The tradition of Water Puppetry evolved in Vietnam way back in the 11th Century. Most of the original concepts of this form of art came from the northern Red River Delta Area and it all began with the flooding of their rice fields and where villages needed a form of entertainment to keep them busy when they could no longer work on the their paddy fields. As normal puppetry was anyway part of their culture, the village folk used the water on the rice fields as a unique form of stage to share their folktales with the others.
Today, just as they have done for centuries, the puppets are made out of wood and their features are emphasized using coloured lacquer paint. But Instead of a flooded paddy field the modern version uses a waist-deep pool filled with water. A large stick is used to support the character on the pool which gives an illusion of characters gliding over water, and the puppeteers remain behind a screen manipulating the scenes. The Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre is a leader in this type of entertainment.
Background music is generally provided by a traditional Vietnamese orchestra where the instruments include, cymbals, drums, wooden bells, gongs, horns and bamboo flutes. Each instrument is used to depict a particular mood in the story. Background singing is also used to support the story-telling. And the culture of this water puppetry is such that the puppets are treated like real life beings and there is even impromptu interaction amongst the musicians and the puppets during the show, which makes it even more interesting and entertaining.
A traditional water-puppet show is a must for those visiting Hanoi. They are ideal for all ages and you can easily get a ticket for one of these shows through your Hanoi accommodation
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