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The Co Loa Festival

February 13, 2008          1550 views

Co Loa is a commune in Dong Anh, a suburban district of Hanoi City. Getting there one can see the remains of three layers of concentric reamparts built by King An Duong Vuong, alias Thuc Phan, in the second century BC.

Every year, the 12 villages of Co Loa commune join hands in organizing the festival, which usually begin on the 6th of the first Lunar month.
Early on the morning, 12 notables from each village come to the house of the chief notable in order to prepare for the procession which starts soon thereafter. Opening the procession is the music band, to be followed by the chief notable and the 12 village notables, and then the villagers who carry various offerings to King An Duong Vuong.
A couple of stone horses, one red and one white with embroidered saddles, stand on both sides of the outside part of the gate of King An Duong Vuong temple. The road leading from the gate to the temple is lined with wooden stands for flags and other subjects of worship. The palaquins of the 12 villages are placed in accordance with a pre-arranged order.

For the occasion, the organizers put in front of the temple a big altar with a glass box containing two gold ear rings and objects of worship. A smaller altar, containing the King's arms - swords, crossbow and bronze arrows - is set in front of the it. Beyond, there is a space where a number of red-rimmed mats are spread and where the notables and the population will carry out the religious ceremony. The chief notable officiates at the religious ceremony in honour of the God King, which is in terms of raties quite similar to other traditional ceremonies, amidst the sound of music from the ban. The notables are folowed by the inhabitants. All beg the King to bestow peace and properity to the village.
The ceremony lasts until 1 or
2 p.m. and is followed by a general procession, with the participation of all the 12 villges, in honour of the King.
In the front ranks of the procession are the flags, the
Miniature Royal Court and the sacred weapons of the Temple. Then come the music band and the village notables clad in traditional Court uniforms and holding the weapons supposedly wielded by the King - sword, crossbow and arrows.

Then come the notales and inhabitants of the Pagoda hamlet ad of each of the 12 villages with their own palaquins, flags and music bands. It is quite a long procession, which proceeds at a slow space, amidst the sound of music adn stop regulary to burn a round of firecrackers. Starting from the Temple of King An Duong Vuong, the procession comes to the Trong Thuy well, and then to the village gate. Thereupon, more firecrackers are set out and the contingent which carries the Miniature Royal Court and the populatin of the 12 villages would carry on the procession to their respective hamlets.

The religious and the procession end on the same day, that is, January 6th, while the festival goes on until the 15th of the month, with various tranditional games and activities:
- In the night, there are fireworks, Ca Tru songs, folk theatrical plays (cheo) and conventional theatrical plays (tuong)...

- In the day, old men play chess and cards, old women perform rites and present offerings at the Pagoda, while young men and women, and children have their own games: wrestlings, tugs-of-war, swing, rope climbing, martial arts, shooting from bows and crossbows, flags dancing, human chess (chess games in which human beings are used in place of traditional chess-men), cock-fighting, penny-pitching, rice-cooking contest, etc.
People from neighbouring communes used to come in their numbers to Co Loa to participate in the festival, regarding it as a national festival and spring merry-making.             

Source: vnstyle