The annual “Le khao le the linh Hoang Sa” (Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers) was held in An Hai commune, Ly Son district, the central province of Quang Ngai, on April 6th.
A ritual for the soldiers who died for defending Hoang Sa in Ly Son. (Photo: Van Chuong)
Following a traditional offering ceremony was a boat race with the participation of four teams from An Hai commune.
According to Vietnam’s feudal state history, about three to four centuries ago, each year the Nguyen Lords selected 70 villagers from An Vinh and An Hai wards in Ly Son island to go to Hoang Sa to exploit marine resources.
Later, at the end of the 16th century, the Hoang Sa Flotilla was set up. Thousands of sailors overcame roaring waves and storms to survey sea routes, plant milestones and erect steles affirming national territory in Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, and exploit marine resources ordered by Nguyen Lords. Their missions were full of dangers, and many of them never returned to land.
To pay tribute to the men enlisted in the flotilla, “Le khao le the linh Hoang Sa” has been observed through hundreds of years by families in Ly Son island and many coastal areas in Quang Ngai.
The festival, which is held every April on the island, was recognised as part of the national intangible cultural heritage by the State in 2016. It reflects Vietnam’s history of protecting the national sovereignty in the East Sea, especially over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.
Ly Son island covers an area of less than 10 sq.km but it has nearly 100 relics, most of which are related to the Hoang Sa Flotilla, such as the empty graves built for Hoang Sa soldiers who never returned to land, the temples dedicated to Pham Quang Anh and Vo Van Khiet who were captains of the Hoang Sa Flotilla, and a showroom displaying the items of the Hoang Sa Flotilla sailors who also controlled Bac Hai and Ba Ri Lagoon.
A monument and memorial house dedicated to the Hoang Sa Flotilla stand near the main road of the island./.