The event was to pay tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives over the centuries guarding the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes.

It has been observed through over 400 years by communities on Ly Son Island and many coastal areas in the province. It was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage by the State in 2013.

The “Le khao le the linh Hoang Sa” (Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers) takes place at An Vinh communal house in Ly Son district on May 5.

During the rituals, paper boats with effigies of sailors were launched into the seas and respects were paid to the lost sailors’ symbolic tombs.

According to Vietnam’s feudal state history, the Hoang Sa Flotilla was set up in 17th century when the Nguyen Lords began their reign in the south of the country.

Thousands of sailors braved roaring waves and storms to survey sea routes, plant markers and erect steles affirming the national sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. These areas were secured marine resources under the order of the Nguyen Lords. Their missions were full of danger, and many of them never returned to land.

Therefore, before the soldiers left for their missions, a feast was held for them, hence the beginning of the tradition.

The festival reflects Vietnam’s history of protecting the national sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea), especially over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

After the commemoration on the day, the Tu Linh boat race was held to pray for a year of favorable weather and bumper catches ahead. The festival is called Tu Linh because the racing boats are decorated with symbolic shapes of the quartet of mythological creatures in Vietnam’s traditions and beliefs including the dragon, qilin, tortoise, and phoenix.

Source: VNA