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Festival honours buffalo boys

A unique folk festival celebrating the rural children who look after buffalo has been revived near the central city of Da Nang for the first time in nearly 75 years.

Revival: Buffalo boys enjoy folk games at a festival in honour of rural children who look after buffaloes at Phong Le Village last weekend.
The festival, at Phong Le Village in Hoa Vang District's Hoa Chau Commune, gathered 400 locals last weekend with traditional worship customs and folk games as well as performances of tuong (classical drama).

According to local Ngo Van Nghia, this was the first time the festival had been held since 1936.

"The festival not only praises the buffalo children but also celebrates the solidarity of all the working people in the village and wishes for a lucky harvest and wealth for everyone," Nghia said.

"The festival used to be held every three years," said researcher Van Thu Bich from the Da Nang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism who was the head of the festival preservation team and vows that it has been re-created exactly the same as the original.

"We will now try our best to hold it every two years in order to preserve the local intangible cultural heritage as well as create a tourism product for tourists visiting Da Nang."

Hard work: Children with their buffaloes in Phong Le Village.
For the revived festival, the village was lit up last Saturday with hundreds of lanterns and models of agricultural tools hanging all over the village. Early morning on Sunday, a procession of the 60 buffalo children travelled around the fields of the village, calling out wishes for a good harvest and creating a atmosphere full of cheer and loud laughter. They then participated in folk games like tug-of-war and catching ducks while blindfolded.

They were chosen from 17 clans in the village to take the central roles in various ceremonies at the festival, such as a procession bearing a likeness of the god of agriculture from a holy islet in the village called Con Than to the village's communal house.

Legend holds that ducks were unable to move their feet off the land when they reached the islet, so the locals were afraid to visit it. One day, a herd of buffalo strayed to the islet and local buffaloes boys brought them back safely. Since then, the islet has been a popular place for buffalo children in the village to gather, and the legend became the centrepiece of a special festival for the children.
Revival: Buffalo boys enjoy folk games at a festival in honour of rural children who look after buffaloes at Phong Le Village last weekend.

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