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TRAVELFESTIVALS

Le Mat Snake Village Festival 2017

Updated at Tuesday, 18 Apr 2017, 09:43
The Hanoitimes - Le Mat is a small village at Viet Hung Ward, Long Bien District, about 7 kilometers away from Hanoi, which is famous for its tradition of catching snakes and making delicious food from them. To honor such a long standing profession, the village`s festival transpires annually on the 23rd day of the third lunar month.
Le Mat villagers enjoy the festival.
Le Mat villagers enjoy the festival.
According to folklore, in the reign of King Ly Thai Tong, the princess’s boat once was turned over by a huge snake when she took sightseeing at Nguyet Duc River (Duong River nowadays). The princess’s life was threatened; fortunately, a man of Le Mat village working nearby the river jumped into the water, fought the snake and saved her life. After that, King Ly Nhan Tong intended to reward him with an abundance of precious stuff together with a high position in his dynasty.
To the King’s surprise, the young man refused them all—in stead, he asked the King to break the ground near Thang Long together with the people in his village and neighboring ones. Under Ly Thai Tong’s approval, gradually, the area turned into a wealthy hub. The man of great merit became Le Mat village’s tutelary god. To express their gratitude, villagers constructed a temple worshipping him and added catching snakes to their profession—apart from the usual work of farming. As a result, several cultural activities about snake are held each year at Le Mat village, including the festival.
Le Mat Snake Village Festival usually takes place from the 20th day to the 24th day of the third lunar month, with the main festive day on the 23rd. At the early morning of this day, representative ancestors of the 13 camps at the old land near Thang Long in the past bring 13 trays of offerings from the capital to Le Mat village.
A water procession marks the festival’s start, in which water is taken from the pond, poured into a big porcelain jar, put on a palanquin and brought to the temple. A big fish caught from the mentioned pond and covered in red cloth is used as offering for the tutelary god.
When ceremonies are over, the scene when the young man killed the huge and save the princess is represented among the vibrant sounds of drums. Snake-related competitions are held—for example, snake catching, snake breeding, and snake venom curing. Also, a cup of snake wine with three or five snakes inside may be given to festival goers.
Le Mat Village Festival consists of many unique rites and folk activities, such as the water offering ceremony, the snake killing dance – one of the ten ancient dances in the imperial capital of Thang Long and the rite of catching carp in the village well. With many ancient cultural features, Le Mat Village Festival is one of the most unique festivals in the country, attracting a large number of tourists.
The rite of offering water to the village’s tutelary god.
The rite of offering water to the village’s tutelary god.
On March 23 of the lunar calendar, the villagers in 13 former settlements flock to Le Mat Village’s Communal House to offer incense to the village’s tutelary god.
On March 23 of the lunar calendar, the villagers in 13 former settlements flock to Le Mat Village’s Communal House to offer incense to the village’s tutelary god.
After offering incense to the village’s tutelary god, the representative of each settlement asks for an incense burner to worship with the hope of receiving good luck in the New Year.
After offering incense to the village’s tutelary god, the representative of each settlement asks for an incense burner to worship with the hope of receiving good luck in the New Year.
Enjoying traditional dances in the festival.
Enjoying traditional dances in the festival.
Catching carp in the village well is one of the most typical rites in Le Mat Village Festival.
Catching carp in the village well is one of the most typical rites in Le Mat Village Festival.
 
 
Ha Phuong
Source: Thanh Vu - Kinhtedothi.vn
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