Making news

Ly Son island district’s boat racing festival becomes national heritage

The Tu Linh boat racing festival in the island district of Ly Son, the central province of Quang Ngai, has been recognised as part of the national intangible cultural heritage.

The certificate presentation ceremony was held on April 27 by the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the district People’s Committee.

According to old documents, the Tu Linh (four mythological creatures – dragon, qilin, tortoise, phoenix) boat racing festival on Ly Son Island was first held in 1826.

It takes place around the Lunar New Year festival to pray for good weather, bumper crops, and peace. It is also meant to pay tribute to ancestors who explored this land, as well as the then Hoang Sa flotilla that planted sovereignty markers on Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes and frequently .

To preserve and bring into play this festival, the Ly Son district People’s Committee conducted many surveys and studies over the past years to compile a dossier seeking the inclusion of this activity in the list of national intangible cultural heritage.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism made the recognition in September 2020.

Thanks to this move, Ly Son district is currently home to two festivals named national intangible cultural heritages, with the other being “Le khao le the linh Hoang Sa” (Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers).

The Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers this year was held on April 19.

According to Vietnam’s feudal state history, the Hoang Sa Flotilla was set up when the Nguyen Lords began their reign in the south of the country. Thousands of sailors overcame roaring waves and storms to survey sea routes, plant milestones and erect steles affirming national territory in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa 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 the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.

Ly Son island covers an area of less than 10 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./