Northern villagers ring in lucky year by lugging giant cannons

By Giang Huy   January 28, 2020 | 07:35 pm GMT+7
Muscular men carry two huge cannons measuring six meters long and 60 centimeters across to bring good fortune to a Bac Ninh Province village.
On Tuesday or the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, Dong Ky villagers in Bac Ninh Province rejoiced in their annual festival with hundreds of participants.

On the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, which fell on Tuesday this year, people in Dong Ky Village in Tu Son Town, Bac Ninh Province celebrated their annual festival with hundreds participating.

The festival lasts about two hours. The two cannons are brought from the family of the festival host to the village communal house.

The event lasted around two hours. The two cannons are brought from the house of the chief event organizer to the village communal house.

At 9a.m. sharp, two cannons are carried around the village by an entourage of strong, muscular men in the village. Dong Ky village used to open a contest for people to compete in making the canon and set it off. According to the legend, the tradition was a commemoration of General Thien Cuong who led the army and began a fight against the invaders by firing a canon on the fourth of the first lunar month under the reign of King Hung, the legendary founder of the first Vietnamese state—Van Lang.

At 9 a.m. the two cannons are carried around the village by a group of the village’s strongest men.

Dong Ky Village used to have a contest for making and firing cannons. According to a legend, the tradition was a commemoration of General Thien Cuong who led the army and began a fight against invaders by firing a cannon on the fourth of the first lunar month during the reign of King Hung, the mythical founder of the first Vietnamese state - Van Lang.

Around 11 a.m., two cannons were carried into the communal house in the cheers of hundreds.

At around 11 a.m. the two cannons are carried back into the communal house to cheers from the crowds.

Canon carriers must be 35 years of age or older.

The cannon carriers must be at least 35 years old.

The two canons are made of wood, covered with red paint and laden with thin gold sheets. Dragon and unicorn statues were made to curl with the body of the canons, signifying a wish for a peaceful year.

The cannons are made of wood and covered with red paint. Dragon and unicorn carvings on the cannons signify people’s desire for a peaceful year.

The elders in the village hold a ceremony at the communal house.

The village elders perform rituals in the communal house.

The village boys jump in excitement in the music festival while the ceremony is conducted by the elders.

Youngsters jump in excitement as the rituals are performed.

After the canons have been brought to the communal house, the four male villagers playing the role of feudal officials for a traditional game. It involves the officials being held up high by the young half-naked men in the village.

After the cannons are brought to the communal house, four men play the roles of feudal officials for a traditional game. It involves them being raised high by young villagers.

A buff man will help as the strong base for the official to stand on while others support the legs as they walk the official around the communal house’s front court.

A strong man is identified and the "feudal official" stands on his shoulders while others take some of the load by holding up his legs as the group walks around the communal house yard.

Whichever official can stand up the longest without falling will be the winner. The chosen officials for the game must be 51 years old whose family is the model for others and children are successful.  The festival was recognized as a National intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in 2016.

Whichever "official" can stand up the longest without toppling is the winner.

The persons chosen to play the officials must be 51 years old and from exemplary families with successful children.

The festival was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism a few years ago.

 
 
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