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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Vietnam series at VietnamesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Vietnamese holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson # 21 - Ong fish festival.
The Ong Fish Festival, or lễ hội Cá Ông, takes place over two days in the middle of lunar March and is the biggest festival for fishermen, or ngư dân, in Quảng Nam- Đà Nẵng Province.
In this lesson, we will learn about the rituals and meaning of the Ong Fish Festival.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
What is the Ong fish and why do fishermen worship them?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Ong fish worship is a custom that shows respect for the gods, or thần linh, and wishes for the prosperity of the local people who live near water. Fishermen believe that the Ong fish will protect and bring good things to them. Therefore, whenever Ong fish die and wash ashore, the fishermen will hold a funeral, or đám tang, to show respect for its passing. On this day, lamps are hung on ships and boats, and offerings are also presented solemnly.
Elders in fishing villages will often celebrate the occasion by praying for peace in their local temples. They will give offerings, which usually exclude seafood, and read a funeral oration of fishermen's gratitude for the protection of the Ong fish. They will also pray, or cầu, for the next season to be abundant and for ships and boats to sail safely.
Early the next morning, a procession ceremony takes place on the sea at a predetermined location. People from the village beat drums, or trống, noisily to celebrate the Ong fish ceremony and play witness to the fishermen’s prayers. Following this, there are worship and music activities, including an opera and an opening ceremony, which begins by ringing a mõ, meaning a wooden bell. Ships and boats always gather at the wharf on this day to attend the Ong fish worship ceremony. This is an important cultural custom of fishermen in general in Vietnam.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
What is the Ong fish and why do fishermen worship them?
The "Ong fish” is a whale or cá voi with a gray back, called the God of the Southern Sea by fishermen. In each region, the time of celebration of the Whale Festival may be different and fishermen often combine worship of the South Sea God with others.
So listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Is there a Festival that concerns fish in your country that is similar to this one?
Please leave a comment telling us at VietnamesePod101.com, and we’ll see you next time!