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Do Son in seething atmosphere with buffalo fighting

Over 20,000 people in Haiphong port city and from other localities on September 12 flocked to Do Son town to attend a traditional buffalo fighting festival.

As many as 16 burly buffaloes from five precincts of Do Son namely Ngoc Hai, Ngoc Xuyen, Bang La, Van Son and Van Huong qualified for the final round of the festival which included 15 matches.

The audience almost forgot the hot weather as they were given with the exciting performances of the buffalo fighters. Some surprising incidents occurred as some of the fighters just wanted to “make friends,” ignoring their task and even raising their eyes toward the viewers for a time.

After defeating other buffaloes in four matches, buffalo N0 20, owned by Le Ba Ngoc from Ngoc Xuyen precinct, was crowned as champion, pocketing VND 15 million (almost US $1,000) and gaining the fourth championship title for this precinct in four consecutive years.

Buffalo N0 10 from Van Son precinct won the second place while the third place went to buffaloes numbered 11 and 12 also from Van Son.

Buffalo fighting is annually held on the 9th or 10th of the eighth lunar month in Do Son, Haiphong city with the victorious buffalo being escorted into the yard of the village’s communal house to pay tribute to local deities. All of the combating buffaloes in the festival are then slaughtered after the festival.

It is a traditional festival which usually attracts participants from three villages, including Do Son, Do Hai and Ngoc Xuyen. The villagers usually organise qualifying rounds in early August and the final competition is held on lunar August 9.

To prepare for the festival, the villagers have to select good buffaloes and give them careful feeding and training. These buffaloes must be at the age of 4 to years with a good appearance, a wide chest, a big groin, a long neck, an acute bottom, and bow shaped horns. The fighting buffaloes are fed in separate cages to keep them from contacting with common buffaloes.

On the main festival day, the villagers usually make offerings to deities before the competitions. A typical procession begins with an octet and a big palanquin, carried by six strong young men.

When the refugee gives the signal, the two buffaloes are moved closer to each other and then the ropes attached to the noses of the buffaloes are released. The two buffaloes then rush into each other with well practiced movements.

The festival is held to reflect the courage and martial spirit of the local people in Do Son as well as of the Vietnamese people. The festival was listed as one of the fifteen national festivals by the Administration of Tourism in 2000 regarding its typical cultural identity. Buffalo fighting festival has been held in Do Son in the past 16 years.

Nhan Dan - (14/09/2005)

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