Vietnam recognizes remote northern festival as intangible cultural heritage

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"Long Tong" festival in Tuyen Quang Province

"Long Tong" festival, celebrated in ethnic Tay communities in the northern province of Tuyen Quang was recognized by the government as an "intangible cultural heritage" on February 21.

Dang Thi Bich Lien, deputy minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism presented the national intangible cultural heritage certificate to Tuyen Quang Province authorities, news website Vietnamplus reported Wednesday.

 "Long Tong" means "going to the field" in the local Tay language.

The festival is usually celebrated between the 4th and 10th of the first lunar month, or between February 13 and February 19 this year.

The festival is the biggest and most important for several ethnic minority groups, not only the Tay, but also the Nung, Dao, and San Chi.

Apart from welcoming a new crop, they all celebrate it with the same purpose in mind praying for favorable weather, a good harvest, and health and usually on the area's best rice fields.

It normally begins with a ritual prayer for a good harvest as villagers set up an altar and offer fruits, boiled chickens, and cakes to the God of Agriculture.

A shaman conducts rituals to direct prayers to heaven and earth, the gods of mountains and streams, and patron deities to ask for good health, peace, and prosperity.

It is followed by the most important ritual, "Going to the Field". Each family brings a large tray with offerings of cakes, boiled chicken, pork, and chicken eggs, and steamed glutinous rice dyed in five colors, which take days to make.

Then, traditional agricultural games will be played by local young men and women, including ploughing, singing, and shooting contests.

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