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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Vietnam Season 1 Lesson 24 - Buffalo Fighting Festival
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 24 - Buffalo Fighting Festival.
The Buffalo Fighting Festival, or lễ hội chọi Trâu, is held on lunar August 9 by the people in Do Son town. Not only does this festival aim to entertain, but it also offers prayers for peace, good health, prosperity, and remembrance of the gods in the village.
In this lesson, we will look at some of the most interesting aspects of the Buffalo Fighting Festival in Đồ Sơn.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Do the buffaloes that were in each festival continue to be raised and take part in the following years’ festivals?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Finding and raising buffaloes, or in Vietnamese trâu, to participate in the festival must be done very carefully. The buffaloes designated to participate are given much attention and care for up to a whole year before the festival. Often after the Tet Holiday, fighting arenas send people to search for and select suitable buffaloes. Many times, they have to spend months finding buffaloes that meet the correct criteria—they must be healthy bulls, have bronze-color skin, have a wide sternum, and have a thick back. The thicker and flatter the buffalo is, the more resistant it is to the attacks of other buffalo.
The Buffalo Fighting Festival actually comprises two interwoven ceremonies and festivals. The ceremonial side is always held in a quite traditional and solemn manner. It begins with a sacrificial ceremony, or lễ tế, for the God Điểm Tước, after which begins the palanquin procession ceremony. To the boisterous music of an octal orchestra, people lead the fighting buffaloes towards the communal house built in reverence of the Tutelary God, the god which protects the village.
The main part of the festival begins on lunar August 9 with dance performances by muscular young men in the village. More than twenty people are divided into two groups, giving a powerful performance to the sound of drums, or trống and gongs, or thanh la. According to the village elder, the sound of the drums and gongs urges the buffaloes to fight more powerfully and creates a boisterous atmosphere for the festival.
There are many methods of training fighting buffaloes, including running, wading through mud, climbing mountains, improving durability to the weather, and getting them to become familiar with crowds. Sometimes, people also make the buffalo horns sharper or give them a star fruit shape.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question!
Do the buffaloes that were in each festival continue to be raised and take part in the following years’ festivals?
No. The winning buffalo is carried to the temple for the sacrificial ceremony. However, all of the fighting buffaloes must be slaughtered, regardless of whether they win or lose. After the sacrificial ceremony, people will prepare and enjoy a blessed meal together.
So listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Is there a Buffalo Fighting Festival in your country?
Please leave a comment telling us at VietnamesePod101.com, and we’ll see you next time!