Every year on February 10 on the lunar calendar, thousands of people in all parts of the country gather at Dinh Co (Young Lady Palace) under Mount Thuy Van of Hai Son Hamlet, Long Hai Town, Long Dat District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province to participate in Dinh Co Festival. Dinh Co was built in about 1930 with the area of about 100m2. The inside worships Young Lady Statue with the height of 50 cm. she wears a red coat and wears a hot with glass-beads. Besides Young Lady, the inside worships other gods such as Big Lady and Nam Hai Gentlemen (This is a way to call whales. The fishers in the seashore think that whales are a god.) and so on.
Legend says, a long time ago, there was a girl named Le Thi Hong who is from Phan Rang. She is the only daughter of Mr. Le Van Khuong and Mrs. Thach Thi Ha. One day, she followed her father to go to South Vietnam on business, met accidence in the sea. After three days of looking for his daughter in the sea, the father was sad to return the country. After some days, people saw her body drift into Hon Hang (Cave Islet). Fishers in Phuoc Hai buried her in a sand hill near the place where they found her body.
One day, an epidemic disease harmed villagers, there was a person dreaming that he saw Young Lady omen in a dream, directed the villagers about overcame the epidemic disease. Therefore, the villagers burned incense, sprayed to her for help and expectedly, the epidemic disease went past.
After that event, the local people built a small temple to worship Young Lady, pray to her for help villagers have a peaceful and comfortable life. Every year, Dinh Co Festival is organized solemnly by fishers. It happens for three days, February 10-12 (the lunar calendar).
Before the festival happens, each house puts an incense-table. All boats and ships of the fishers park in the port and look at Dinh Co. All are hung lanterns, so this place happens a bright and colorful sight at night. The festival happens as follows:
-The ceremony carrying Big Lady and Nam Hai Gentleman back Dinh Co. The ceremony starts at 7 o’ clock on February 10th (the lunar calendar). The parade party consists of lion team, ceremony leaders, the youths offering offerings to gods in ceremonies, 12 people holding oars, music group, 2 imperial courts (one for Big Lady, one for Mr. Nam Hai). The parade happens extremely excitingly, drum, gong, and sound resounding all area.
-The ceremony respecting the forebear who had merit in building villages also happens on February 10 (the lunar calendar). The ceremony includes the monks of Buddhism coming to pray for peace.
-The second day (February 11 on the lunar calendar) is the part competing for basket rowing and swimming. In the evening, the monks offer rice to the gods.
-The third day (February 12 on the calendar) is the major ceremony. Early in the morning, the fishers hold Young Lady welcoming ceremony. The boat group welcoming Young Lady consists of hundreds of boats of which there are 2 main boats and six escorting boats. All are decorated brightly. At seven, boat group starts and go straight to open sea. When it is 1km from the coast, the group stops and carries out the ceremony. After that, it brings Young Lady back to Dinh Co.
From seven to ten, the major ceremony happens. The main offerings are pigs: a roast pig for Big Lady, the fresh pig for Nam Hai Gentleman. Vegetarian food is for Young Lady. On festival days, there are art and sports activities such as ancient opera performing, tray dancing, lion dancing, dragon dancing, boat racing and so on.
Dinh Co Festival is both solemn and exciting. It is an opportunity so that the fishers show their gratitude to the Young Lady who had merit helping them overcome accidences and have a peaceful and comfortable life. This is also an opportunity so that everyone relaxed after days of working hard. Dinh Co Festival is one of the most famous traditional folk festivals of Southeast Vietnam. If you have a chance to travel to Ba Ria-Vung Tau in early February days on the lunar calendar, do not forget to mix into this festival’s atmosphere.