Chaos ensues as hundreds compete for lucky balls at Vietnam festival

By Giang Huy   March 1, 2018 | 08:41 am GMT+7

Despite requests from the culture ministry, violence still broke out at the traditional spring festival  in norther Phu Tho Province.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of locals and visitors gathered at a muddy field in Hien Quang Commune in the northern province of Phu Tho to attend a phet stealing competition, the main feature of the communes Phet Festival. The two-day spring festival is held annually to commemorate Princess Thieu Hoa, a female general who helped the Trung sisters fight the Chinese and briefly regain independence for Vietnam in 40 A.D. Phet stealing is held on the second day of the festival, in which young men compete to secure six small bamboo balls thrown into the middle of a field for their team. The three bigger balls are called phet, while the three smaller ones are called chui.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of locals and visitors gathered at a muddy field in Hien Quang Commune in the northern province of Phu Tho to attend a phet stealing competition, the main feature of the commune's Phet Festival. The two-day spring festival is held annually to commemorate Princess Thieu Hoa, a female general who helped the Trung sisters fight the Chinese and briefly regain independence for Vietnam in 40 A.D. Phet stealing is held on the second day of the festival, in which young men compete to secure six small bamboo balls thrown into the middle of a field for their team. The three bigger balls are called phet, while the three smaller ones are called chui.

Dozens of local men rush into the muddy field in search of the phet ball released by the head of the competition.

Dozens of local men rush into the muddy field in search of the phet ball released by the head of the competition. Phet stealing originates from a traditional game used to improve the strength and endurance of soldiers in ancient times.

When the second phet ball was thrown out, hundreds of men, including those not originally part of the competing teams, also rushed in to grab the ball.

When the second phet ball was thrown out, hundreds of men, including those not originally part of the competing teams, also rushed in to grab the ball. Before the start of the festival, the Ministry of Culture had requested Phu Tho authorities to prevent violence from breaking out at the festival.

Many men even tried to climb over the others to try and get hold of the balls, which are believed to bring luck to anyone who managed to touch them.

Many men even tried to climb over others to try and get hold of the balls, which are believed to bring luck to anyone who manages to touch them.

Despite having the ball in his hand, this mans struggle is still not over as men from the other team still try to wrestle the ball out of his grasp.

Despite having the ball in his hand, this man's struggle is still not over as men from the other team still try to wrestle the ball out of his grasp.

Due to the large number of participants, it is nearly impossible for those not near where the ball landed to secure it.

Due to the large number of participants, it is nearly impossible for those not near where the ball landed to secure it.

Tuan, a local from Hien Quang Commune, eventually gave up trying to get one of the balls. Managing to touch the ball is already enough luck for me. Im too exhausted to continue now, Tuan said.

Tuan, a local from Hien Quang Commune, eventually gave up trying to get one of the balls. "Managing to touch the ball is already enough luck for me. I'm too exhausted to continue now," Tuan said.

Incidents of men fighting each other over the balls still occured at this years festival despite the presence of dozens of police officers.

Incidents of men fighting each other over the balls still occured at this year's festival despite the presence of dozens of police officers.

Once a participant successfully leaves the field with a ball in his hand, the next one would be thrown out.

Once a participant successfully leaves the field with a ball in his hand, the next one would be thrown out.

The game ends once all 6 balls have an owner. Despite being exhausted and covered in mud, most of the participants found the game fun and are eager to play again next year.

The game ends once all six balls have an owner. Despite being exhausted and covered in mud, most of the participants found the game fun and are eager to play again next year.

This man is one of the lucky participants who managed to secure a ball, and a torn shirt was the price he paid for this victory.

This man is one of the lucky participants who managed to secure a ball, and a torn shirt was the price he paid for this victory.

Ha Quang Sang, another lucky winner, immediately rushed home and placed the ball on his familys altar. This is the second time Sang emerged victorious in the competition.

Ha Quang Sang, another lucky winner, immediately rushed home and placed the ball on his family's altar. This is the second time Sang emerged victorious in the competition.

 
 
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