July 4, 2008
Many hues of a festival
The biennial Festival Hue to be held next month will focus on reviving royal and folk festivals that evoke the glorious past of the former imperial capital.
Themed “Cultural Heritage in the course of Integration and Development” this year, and scheduled for June 3-11, it will open with a fireworks display by French pyrotechnic artist Pierre Alain Hubert.
Performances by foreign art troupes and folk games too will be part of the opening ceremony.
The Dem Hoang Cung (Imperial Nights) program, on June 3, 6 and 9, will showcase the charm of the royal palace at night through performances of nha nhac – the Hue court music that was proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO – royal dance, Hue folk music and Hue classical drama.
Visitors will also have the chance to discover royal culinary delights and enjoy activities like the tea ceremony and poetry contest which were held especially for the Nguyen Kings and their court.
The Nguyen Dynasty was Vietnam’s last feudal regime, ruling from 1802 to 1945.
This year’s festival will also feature the Nam Giao prayer rituals that honor Heaven and the Earth, pray for national solidarity and auspicious weather, and symbolize the harmony between humans and nature.
The rituals, which comprise two parts, Le Xuat Cung and Le Te Nam Giao, will be a vivid and faithful reenactment of the ceremony conducted by Nguyen Kings for over a century.
People from eight traditionally rich villages and communes in Hue will, on behalf of people the country over, perform the rituals at eight altars in Phuong Dan, one of the floors in the Nam Giao relic site, making the event different from past years.
Ao dai fashion show
A show featuring a collection of ao dai, the traditional tunic, will be another highlight of this year’s festival.
The theme of this year’s collection, titled Dau xua (Vestiges of old times), is Hue’s an and trien (official seals).
The ornately decorated, resplendent ao dai on the rich Toan Thinh silk reflect the beauty of Hue’s tangible and intangible heritages and remind beholders of opulent royal ladies of the past.
A large number of colorful kites made by artisans around the country for the Hanoi-Hue-Saigon kite competition earlier this year will be on display.
The festival will close with a dazzling fireworks display and performances in different venues around the city including Ky Dai, Ngo Mon (Noon Gate) Square – the main gate to the forbidden citadel in Hue – and Ngu Phung, another of the relic site’s stories.
For the first time
The reenactment of court exams in martial arts is one of several events featured for the first time in the festival.
Besides Van Mieu – Hanoi’s Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university – King Minh Mang, who ruled from 1820 to 1840, also established Vo Mieu (the Temple of Martial Arts) to honor people making remarkable contributions to the country.
The court held three martial arts exams, each of which lasted a month and comprised various sections.
The exams conferred doctorates on 12 persons, and the successful candidates also had their names inscribed on steles at the temple.
The event will be held at Nghenh Luong Dinh, where the Nguyen Kings used to relax along the Huong (Perfume) river.
The reenactment of the final round that will feature martial arts performances by artists from traditional sects around the country is likely to be an awesome spectacle for beholders.
The local government will hold a ceremony June 3 to announce the recognition of Hue as a “festival city.”
Hue, which was also the seat of the Thuan Hoa-Phu Xuan-Hue kingdom many centuries ago and was recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site in 1993, has become a major tourist attraction in the central region.
Since the Festival Hue was organized for the first time in 2000, the Thua Thien-Hue Province government has made great efforts to develop the former feudal capital into a festival city.
Reported by Bui Ngoc Long