Dong Da Hillock Festival in Hanoi, North Vietnam

Dong Da Hillock Festival takes places annually on the 5th day of the Lunar New Year at Dong Da Hillock, Quang Trung Ward, Dong Da District, Ha Noi Capital. The festival aims to respect the great merit of King Quang Trung – the hero in the history opposing aggression of the Vietnamese nation and to memorize the famous battle of Ngoc Hoi-Dong Da.

Coming back to history, since the Qing Dynasty was established, it had harbored the thought of invading Vietnam but had not found why to do. Taking advantage of the helping request of King Le Chieu Thong, Ton Si Nghi, a general of Qing Dynasty led an army to struck Vietnam with the force of  200, 000 soldiers. Qing army occupied Thang Long Citadel and then built the pots around to protect.

In 1789, Emperor Quang Trung led the army to march forward Thang Long. Before going into Thang Long, he struck Ngoc Hoi and  Khuong Thuong posts. At Khuong Thuong Post happened a bloody battle. At night, Tay Son (The name of a village in Binh Dinh where Nguyen Hue or King Quang Trung was born) army used cannons to fire to the post. Struck suddenly, the Qing army died countlessly. Sam Nghi Dong (a general of the Qing dynasty) killed himself. After that, Tay Son army went straight to Thang Long Citadel.

In The battle of Khuong Thuong Post, the bodies of the Qing army were so many, buried in 12 holes and covered with soil into 12 hillocks around Khuong Thuong Post. After, Da grass grew luxuriantly, so people called the area of Khuong Thuong Post Go Dong Da (Da Hillock). The Khuong Thuong Post battle was called Dong Da battle. In Gia Long Dynasty (1802-1820), the bodies of Qing army were collected into a hillock that still has existed now.

In 1792, Emperor Quang Trung passed away from illness. In order to memorize the national hero and Ngoc Hoi-Dong Da Victory, people organize festivals in many places of which Dong Da Festival in Ha Noi is the most famous.

In the morning of the festival, the officers and the elders in the village gather fully for the ceremony. At 12 am, a procession happens from Khuong Thuong village temple to Dong Da Hillock so that the god attends the festival. The procession is long and colorful, walking slowly and orderly. At the end of the procession is a fire dragon performing team. Some youths dance the dragon and the others perform martial art to reconstruct the battle in the past.

After 1954, Dong Da Hillock Festival became National Festival. Annually, the leaders of the nation come to host every ritual of the festival. National flag and festival flags fly in the wind like welcoming tourists everywhere. In front of King Quang Trung’s statue, the representative of the state read a speech to respect Tay Son heroes sacrificing because of great duty. After that, people offer incense and memory. Opposite Dong Da Hillock is Dong Hoang Pagoda spreading incense ascending, people gather densely. The nuns offer rice soup to the invader spirits because of a charitable heart. After solemn ceremonies, art and sports activity happens. There are fork games such as lion dancing, dragon dancing, wrestling, human chess, cockfight.

Dong Da Hillock Festival is one of the most famous traditional folk festivals in North Vietnam. If you have a chance to travel to Ha Noi Capital in early spring days, do not forget to attend this special festival.

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