The Hanoitimes - Held in Nam Truc and Vu Ban District, Nam Dinh Province, Vieng Market Festival is launched on the annual 8th day of the first lunar month, only once in a year, when people have just finished their Lunar New Year.
Accordingly, although the Vu Ban residents travelled anywhere, they just thought of the folk-song as a reminder:
"Enjoying the New Year’s day at home on the 1st
Engaging sports festival at communal house on the 2nd
Going to Qua Linh market on the 4th
Then Trinh market on 5th and Goi market on 6th
The following 7th is just for rest
Packing and travelling to Vieng market on 8th
Because it just takes place once a year."
Legend has it that Vieng market is linked somehow to the person who brought copper casting to the area, Nguyen Minh Khong, so people who go the market feel that they will get lucky if they buy something made of copper at Vieng market on this day.
The market opens on the 8th of lunar January; nevertheless, the most spiritual moment falls on the night of the 7th and early 8th. That is the moment of heavenly-earthly, positive-negative exchange. According to the popular belief, at the time, men and Gods could reach together and all the prayers could be perceived more clearly. Trade could at the time take place smoothly. Consequently, there are 40,000-50,000 people coming to the market on the night of 7th let alone. The market on the night of 7th is called “Cho am phu” (Hades Market). There are about 10,000-12,000 people coming to the market on the following 8th. The market-goers not only just enjoy the market atmosphere but also bring along the feeling toward Mother, praying for fortune and favourable nature, rich crops, happy family. They buy and sell just for aspiration at luck in the rest of the year.
Vieng market is actually typical to an agricultural countryside that is rich in natural products, a kind of radiant open-air “fair” produced by the local farmers, especially ornamental plants, speciality crops, subtle craft articles, utensils, bronze and iron-made tools, etc. This spring market displays handicraft products, antiquities and false antiquities, utensils, tools for agriculture production, and many kinds of ornamental plants. Specialities are barbecued beef and “bánh dày” (sticky rice cake).
The cheapest things at Vieng would be flowers and trees, which bring both the buyer and seller happiness and luck. From around 2a.m, deals are done under the light of candles or flash-lights. Deals are agreed quickly, as people believe, to keep the luck. From 6a.m, local people bring farming tools such as hoes and sickles to sell, which relate closely to their lives. Buyers believe that the tools will bring them health and richness. Vieng market also is also a place to relax. Lovers would find themselves or their happy future here.
Above all, everyone visiting the market just wish to buy the burnt veal at any cost, which is considered the indispensable gift from the market and bliss from fair of the Vieng market-goers.
By Tuan Minh