3 most significant festivals in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam

Thousands of years of history have resulted in a wide range of customs in various parts of Vietnam, particularly in the Mekong Delta. The lunar calendar is used throughout the region to keep track of a plethora of noteworthy festivals and events. The majority of them are centered on entertaining activities and ceremonial procedures in order to honor the spirit of the community temple and the village. Let’s find out three of the region's most important events below. We believe that visiting the Mekong Delta at the right time and participating in one of these festivals will be a highlight of your Vietnam tour in general and your Mekong Delta tour in particular.

Chol Chnam Thmay Festival

Chol Chnam Thmay is an annual traditional Khmer festival that is as important as the Kinh Lunar New Year. Khmer people, like Kinh people, celebrate Chom Chnam Thmay in the hopes of having a safe, joyful, and lucky year.

The Chol Chnam Thmay Festival takes place in April and lasts three days (from the 13th to 15th). Khmer people often clean and decorate their homes as well as prepare some special traditional dishes in preparation for the new year. People appreciate being free of work and relaxing with family members throughout these three days.

Chol Sang Kran is the name given to the first day of the Khmer New Year. On this day, many Khmer people dress up in traditional garb and visit the local pagoda. For the great-calendar welcoming ceremony, they offer incense, lamps, flowers, and fruits. In the evening, a ceremony is held to bid farewell to the old Tevoda and welcome the new one. After hearing the monks' teachings, people gather in the yard to play traditional games or sing and dance.

Thngay Vonabot is the name of the second day. In the morning, Khmer people bring food and drinks to monks and worship the souls of departed family members. Khmer people traditionally climb a sandy mountain in the late afternoon and evening to symbolize their hope for happiness (called as the gold mountain and the silver mountain).

People begin cleaning Buddha statues with perfume water on the third day, known as Thngay Long-sac, after listening to Buddhist teaching. This action is performed to show respect and gratitude to Buddha, as well as to cleanse the previous year's misfortunes and to wish for the best in the coming year. In the afternoon, Khmer people offer incense, food, and drinks to relieve the souls of deceased family members of their suffering. On this day, Khmer people often send their best wishes to relatives and friends, hold community activities at communal houses, and perform traditional art performances.


Ok Om Bok Festival

Ok Om Bok is a traditional Mekong Delta Khmer festival with sacred importance in their spiritual lives. The Ok Om Bok Festival is held on the Full Moon day of the tenth month in the Vietnamese Lunar Calendar, with the goal of worshiping the Moon. In Khmer mythology, it is the last day of the moon's cycle around the earth, as well as the end of a harvest. As a result, the Ok Om Bok Festival aims to express gratitude to the Moon for protecting and promoting an abundant crop, as well as to wish for a successful harvest in the coming year.

Khmer people set up a table of offerings on the night of the Full Moon day: new sticky rice, yam, coconuts, bananas, sweeties, and so on. There is always a pot of tea in the center of the table. Khmer people bow their heads once after pouring tea into the glass to express their gratitude to the Moon. Following that, there is a colorful and glittering lantern ceremony on Ba Om Lake. Khmer people not only drop these lanterns on the lake but also fly them to the sky. Dozens of large lanterns illuminate the night sky, accompanied by bustling music and the joy of the Khmer people. The Khmer people believe that these lanterns will bring them bad luck and danger from afar.

The “Ngo” race is the most appealing and exciting activity of the Ok Om Bok Festival. Ngo is a Khmer boat in the shape of a Nagar snake, measuring 25-30 meters in length and 1–1.4 meters in width. Every “Ngo” has roughly 40 to 60 boatmen, with a leader at the helm to oversee the entire crew. People gather along the riverbanks throughout the race, and the noisy sound of drums, trumpets, cheers, and applause encourage boatmen to row as quickly as possible to the finish line, creating an exciting scene.


Ky Yen Festival 

The Ky Yen (Cau An) festival is the most important Tuletary God Worshipping in a village's year in the Mekong Delta. This festival has become a sacred ritual and traditional cultural activity of people in the Mekong Delta, passed down from generation to generation. Tuletary God Worshipping is held annually from the 14th to the 16th of the last month in the Lunar Calendar. Every three years, there will be a Great Ky Yen Festival with numerous rituals and activities.

Locals use the Tuletary God Worshipping to express gratitude to the village's founders or defenders, as well as to pray for good weather and abundant crops. Every village in the Mekong Delta has a village hall where people gather on festive days to witness sacred ceremonies and participate in traditional community-based activities.

To prepare for the ritual, students dressed in traditional festive garb line up in front of the common home. Many ceremonies with precise and sequential traditions will be held at the Great Dai Yen Festival. The processing ceremony, the honoring ceremony, the greeting ceremony, and the chanting ceremony are all held on the first day. There are up to eight separate ceremonies on the second and third days: Tuc Yet, Tinh Sang, Chanh Te, Tien Hien & Hau Hien, Xay Chau, Hat Chau, Hoi Chau, and Hoi Sac. During the festivities, a mix of rituals and performances by folk artists are performed.

On festive days, in addition to sacred ceremonies, there are numerous exciting activities, particularly folk-song singing, which creates a boisterous atmosphere. Many people are drawn to lion dancing, boat racing, and martial arts fighting, creating a jovial image of a land rich in beauty and culture.

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