More than 5,000 people from 46 provinces and cities nationwide have thronged to Nha Trang, in the coastal province of Khanh Hoa, for the annual Thap Ba Festival of the Cham, one of the country’s ethnic minority groups.
Located about 440km from HCM City, the three-day festival opened on Monday at the city’s Ponagar Goddess Worshipping Tower, a religious relic from the Cham Pa Kingdom. The tower honours Yana, the goddess who the Cham believe created the earth. She also brought rice and plants and helped people learn to weave cloth.
During the festival, people visit the tower to offer incense to the Goddess and to pray for good health and fortune.
The first two parts of Thap Ba Festival, the clothes-changing ceremony and the worshipping ceremony, are very solemn. On the first day, people take dresses and bonnets off the statues at the tower and bathe them in water infused with flowers. Then they put on new dresses to honour the statues. The festival continues with the worshipping ceremony, which includes sacrifices and ceremonial music.
But after the solemnity comes the entertainment, which features traditional song (hat boi) and dance performances, many folk games and boat racing in the nearby Cai River.
Thap Ba Festival ends today.
VNS - (13/05/2004)