Thousands of people annually gathered at the stadium of Do Son Town, Hai Phong City to witness the attractive performances of buffalos within the Do Son Buffalo Festival, an outstanding and unique festival one in Vietnam which is associated with different legends.
1. Legend of Do Son Buffalo Festival
It is said that long time ago, one Creator caused a severe drought. All living things looked toward the sea, praying for Creator’s favour. In the most miserable moment, suddenly, people saw two buffalos fighting fiercely on the wave crests and the rains started to pour down, revive all creatures.
After that, local people organise the fighting performance annually to show, not only their great gratitude for the Sir Buffalo but also their desire for the immortal vitality and strength of coastal people of Hai Phong.
Being held officially and annually on the ninth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar since the 18th century, the festival is a chance for local people to pray for prosperity and happiness.
2. Preparation for Do Son Buffalo Festival
The preparation for this buffalo fighting festival is an elaborate process, from the 5th and the 6th lunar month itself. The competing buffalos must be carefully selected and methodically trained months in advance of the festival. These buffaloes, which had experiences in the qualifying round, must be between 4 and 5 years old, with a good appearance, a wide chest, a big groin, a long neck, an acute bottom and bow shaped horns.
The selected buffaloes, after all the elimination rounds, are fed in separate cages to keep them from contact with common buffaloes.
3. Performance in Do Son Buffalo Festival
The beginning of the worshipping ceremony lasts until lunch time. Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival takes off with a colorful procession with an octet and a big procession chair, carried by six strong young men.
The chosen buffalos, covered with red cloth and red band around their horns, are taken to the fighting ring by 24 young men, from each side dressed in red. The young men dance and wave flags as the two teams of troops take their positions in the fighting ground. The dance was mingled with the ebullient sound of drums and gongs, bringing a hectic atmosphere to the festival.
After this event, a pair of buffalos is led to opposite sides of the festival grounds and is made to stand near two flags called Ngu Phung. As soon as the right signal is released, the two buffaloes are led into the fighting circle.
At the next signal, the two leaders release the ropes that are attached to the noses of the buffalos. With well-practiced movements, the buffalos rush into each other, using their fighting skills to decide the right to enter the next match while the spectators shout and urge the fighting along.
Then, the winning buffalo goes to the next round till the final winner emerges. The matches varied in terms of time, depending on the strength and stamina of the buffalos. At the completion of the fight, the spectacle of “receiving the buffalos” is very interesting as the leaders must then catch the winning buffalo to grant it its reward.
The Buffalo Fighting in Do Son is a traditional festival of Vietnam attached to a Water God worshipping ceremony and the “Hien Sinh” custom. The ceremony is held in every village and chaired by its patriarch to pray for the victory at the buffalo fight, typically express the martial spirit of the local people in Do Son, Hai Phong.
In recent years, this traditional festival attracted not only local residents but also thousands of domestic and international tourists.
4. How to Get There
From Hanoi, take a bus from Giap Bat station and go straight along the highway to reach Hai Phong city. Then, ask local people the way to get to the festival. It will take you only 2 hours to arrive in Do Son to join the fighting buffalo festival. So, spending a day trip to this beautiful town is totally possible.
5. Tips and Tricks
- It is interesting to watch the performance however you are not allowed to run into the stage. This will lead you to unexpected results caused by the aggressive buffalos
- If you want to discover more about Do Son and Hai Phong city, you can visit other famous spots near here, including Do Son Beach, as well as taste delicious local cuisine in food stalls along the streets.
What is better than discovering Vietnamese culture and history by taking part in such an entertaining activity like Do Son Buffalo Festival?