Long Tong festival (it means “going to the field” festival) is the traditional culture with ethnic identity of Tay people in Dinh Hoa district, Thai Nguyen province in particular and other Northern provinces of Vietnam in general.
When to hold this festival
The festival is usually held on the early spring days of New Year at the largest and nicest field where local people chosed to pray for good weather, lush vegetation, abundant crops and prosperous life.
Main acitivities during the festival
During the festival days, the ritual and celebration happen in ceremonial and happy atmosphere. The ritual is spiritual activity praying for best things in work and life of people. To hold the festival in the field, each family prepares a traditional tray of offerings basing on their own financial situation. Some families make from a few dozen to a hundred dishes. This work implies a hidden display of womanish ingenuity in housework, cooking traditional dishes such as Chung cake, round sticky rice cake, blue gruel, parched cake and so on. Specifically, a several families who offer high traditional trays of 5 storys of offerings including many types of candy, cakes, carefully prepared dishes. In each tray, there have a few of colorful flower-shaped cake. Additionally, each tray has two pairs of balls are made by color fabric. Inside of balls, there is sand, cotton and the outside has bright and colorful tassels.
When traditional trays are arranged completely, the person who is chosen by local villagers will do the offerings to pray for village and local people. The ritual just takes a short time, the rest of the time is used for other festival activities.
Throwing “con” folk game starts happy activities. This is the funniest and most attractive to many participants. To prepare this game, at the middle of selected field, local people set a pole with 20 – 30cm height up. On the top of pole there has a circle with 50 – 60cm diameter and words “Sun – Moon” symbolizing the sun and moon. Throwing “con” requires not only good health but also skills. If no one wins the game at the festival, local people will feel unhappy. Because according to their own opinion, if the person who is the winner of throwing “con” to the circle exactly to break the paper, their work will be advantageous and weather is good in the year. In this game, young men and women also throw “con” to each other.
In addition, there are other activities such as lion dance, martial arts, tug of war and so on. With each folk game, everyone not only competes with each other but also has the chance to acquaint together and understand more about mutual life. Particularly at night, youth will hold a singing competition for long hours.
It can be said that Long Tong is one of most festival in New Year time associated with agriculture. This is held to send the wishes of people for good weather, abundant crops and comfortable life. The festival is a vivid expression of diverse and characteristic culture. Those who had once attended Long Tong festival would have unforgettable remembrance and self-appoint to return in next spring to enjoy the most comfortable moment in the festival.