Unique Festival of River Region of Vietnamese Southwest Region
A ceremony commemorating the 155th death anniversary of national hero Nguyen Trung Truc was held in Rach Gia City in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang on October 10-12 (on the 26th – 28th days of the eighth month in the lunar calendar), SGGPO reported.
This year’s commemoration is organized on a large scale to mark the event that has been recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Nguyen Trung Truc (1839–1868) was the leader of the anti-French colonial uprising in South Vietnam and is remembered for his famous quote, “Only when all the grass in Vietnam has been pulled out then will there be no Vietnamese person to fight the aggressors. He was apprehended and executed by the French in Rach Gia, aged 30.
|Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Dao Cuong (second from left) awarded the certificate of national intangible cultural heritage "Nguyen Trung Truc Festival - Rach Gia, Kien Giang province" to leaders of Kien Giang province. Source: Kien Giang newspaper|
The three-day-long event included various cultural activities, such as art programs and ceremonial offerings, the 8th Mekong Delta art photo exhibition, a Vietnamese traditional martial arts (Vovinam) tournament, a trade and tourism fair, performances of don ca tai tu (Southern amateur music), kylin and dragon dance and more.
The organizer said that a number of sponsors and around 3,000 volunteers participate in the festival to offer free vegetarian meals, medical check-ups, and medicines to local people.
Previously, on February 2, 2023, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism decided to add the Nguyen Trung Truc Festival in Kien Giang - a traditional festival commemorating the sacrifice of National Hero Nguyen Trung Truc, to the National Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
On the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the Sacrifice of National Hero Nguyen Trung Truc, the festival was elevated to a typical festival of the province. Since then, the festival has been held regularly, becoming a festival of the entire Southern region, with people from many provinces and cities attending in large numbers.
|From early morning, people marched from Lac Hong - Nguyen Trung Truc intersection to the place where the Incense Offering Ceremony took place. Source: Kien Giang newspaper|
|Dance performers on the street. Source: Kien Giang newspaper|
Nguyen Trung Truc (1837-1868) was born as Chon into a fisher family in Gia Dinh, today’s Ben Lec district of Long An province, according to VNS.
In 1859, he was recruited as a soldier under Truong Dinh’s insurgent force against the French.
In 1861, he gathered many local farmers to fight against the French in Tan An (in today’s Long An) and Rach Gia (in today Kien Giang). Thanks to his many victories, Truc was promoted by King Tu Duc in Hue as a Military Chief, who protected sovereignty in Ha Tien.
At the end of 1861, Truc's force together with Truong Dinh’s troops attacked and burned the warship L’Esperance of the French navy in Nhat Tao (Ben Luc) on December 10, 1861. They killed many French soldiers in the fighting.
When the Hue Court was forced to sign the Nham Tuat Agreement in 1862 to give three provinces in the southeast to the French, Nguyen Trung Truc was assigned as a military chief in the Gia Dinh, Bien Hoa area.
On June 23, 1867, when Ha Tien was lost to the French, Truc withdrew his troops to Rach Gia and established a military base in Hon Chong to continue fighting.
On June 16, 1868, Truc's insurgents attacked Rach Gia military station of the French, killing the Rach Gia provincial governor, five French officers and 67 soldiers. The insurgents also took lots of weapons and controlled Rach Gia for five days. The fight was a significant event that threatened the French colonial regime and was recorded in French military history.
Two days later, the French army headquarters in My Tho sent more troops from Vinh Long to Rach Gia. Though Truc’s army fought bravely against fierce counter-attacks by the French, they had to withdraw to Hon Chong (Kien Luong).
The French took back Kien Giang Military Station on June 21, 1868, and continued to hunt for the Vietnamese insurgents in Hon Chong.
In August 1868, Truc's force had to evacuate from Hon Chong to Phu Quoc Island and established a base in a forest in today’s Cua Can Commune.
The French then attacked the base, and seized Truc’s mother and the families of his soldiers to force them to surrender.
Nguyen Trung Truc and his troops had to surrender to save the lives of their families.
In September 1868, Nguyen Trung Truc was taken to Sai Gon, where he faced the French enemy for the final time in his life. He stated with confidence, “Only when there is no grass in Vietnam, will there be no more Vietnamese fighting against foreign invaders."
The French then killed him at Rach Gia Market on October 27, 1868.
|At the incense offering ceremony on October 11. Source: Kien Giang newspaper|
One of the largest festival
Many temples have been built to pay homage to the brave hero in Kien Giang and Long An provinces including the one in his homeland, Long An; the one in Rach Gia, where he was killed and the temple in Ganh Dau – Phu Quoc, where he was caught in his final fight.
His death anniversary became one of the largest festival in the river region of the Southwest region, with more than 1 million pilgrims coming to offer incense, commemorate and pay tribute to the merits of him.
Director of Kien Giang Department of Culture and Sports Nguyen Van Sau shared that the unique characteristic of the Nguyen Trung Truc Festival is the community connection expressed through the voluntary spirit of volunteerism of the participating people.
Thereby, the festival contributes to strengthening solidarity and close attachment in the community, promoting the role and participation of the people in preserving and promoting cultural heritage values. The festival has also become a spiritual symbol praising patriotism and Vietnamese national pride in the Southwest region of the Fatherland.
From 2006 until now, except for the years during Covid-19 outbreak, Kien Giang province has carefully organized the Nguyen Trung Truc Festival.
|Many people came to offer incense to national hero Nguyen Trung Truc. Source: Kien Giang newspaper|
Pilgrims coming to the Nguyen Trung Truc Festival are treated to free vegetarian meals and beverages. People inside and outside the province voluntarily contributed their labor and resources, cooked together, and made offerings.
There are 2,000-3,000 people coming to volunteer at the festival, serving an average of about 1 million free meals. All are voluntary, thereby demonstrating the generosity and harmony imbued with the cultural identity of the river region of the Southwest region.
Festivals associated with relics are traditional cultural products of the Kien Giang people in particular and cultural resources of the Vietnamese people in general, demonstrating multi-ethnicity, multi-belief and multi-religion. Attendees can easily find harmony and solidarity between the Vietnamese-Chinese-Khmer ethnic groups at the festival.
The element of traditional patriotic culture blended with elements of folk belief culture has created a special feature of the festival, in accordance with the cultural characteristics of the majority of working people in the South, affecting to the spiritual life of the people, creating a strong attraction for the festival.
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