(BGO) - The first Cau Vong festival was held in Tan Yen district, the northern province of Bac Giang in 2002. Since then, the event is held every five years in tribute to ancestors and honour historical and cultural values of Yen The Ha – Tan Yen land.
Horse worshipping ritual at Cau Vong festival.
Hundreds years ago, Tan Yen (also known as Yen The Ha ) was famous for the saying “Trai Cau Vong Yen The - Gai Noi Due Cau Lim”, which aims to praise the courage of men from Cau Vong, Yen The (Bac Giang), and the beauty and good singing voice of women from Noi Due, Cau Lim (neighbouring Bac Ninh province).
In the past, Cau Vong was in Ngo village, Van Cau commune (Yen The) and now it is in Ngo hamlet, Song Van commune (Tan Yen). Legend has it that there was a big tree having its branch hung over Vong stream and Ngo villagers often passed by on it as a bridge, so the name “Cau Vong” (Vong Bridge) was born.
In the 16th century, when the royal court paved the way through the Van Cau land to Yen The (often known as “mandarin” road), it built a bridge across Vong stream with seven spans. Next to Cau Vong is the popular relic cluster of Vong temple and pagoda.
Also in the 16th century under the Mac dynasty, there was Duong family living in the Van Cau land. Duong Quoc Nghia and his spouse Cao Xuan Loc from Lim village (Bac Ninh) made significant contributions to the royal court. The descendants of Duong Quoc Nghia also made a lot of merits, and the family had up to 18 people honoured as princes.
According to the legend, Duong Quoc Nghia and his two sons laid down their lives in a battle, while Ms. Cao Xuan Loc jumped into Vong well to commit suicide. Eighteen Duong princes were worshipped at Vong temple. The nearby Lo temple worshipped Duong Quoc Nghia and his wife Cao Xuan Loc, who was called Vua Ba (Empress) by the people.
In the past, the Cau Vong festival was held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month and the ninth, tenth and eleventh days of the ninth lunar month at Vong temple and pagoda, including procession and worshipping activities, folk games, and art performances.
The procession took place solemnly, bringing 17 “dao sac phong” (royal recognition decrees) from Van Cau village (now Hong Phuc and Tan Lap hamlets) to Vong temple. After that a worship ceremony was held. Additionally, the Cau Vong festival also featured a solemn horse worship ceremony. Locals in the region still preserve a special horse funeral oration. There were also sports competitions such as wrestling, martial arts performance, horse racing and arrow shooting as well as fold games like swinging, cock-fighting, chess playing, kite flying, and word game. In addition, a singing contest between art troupes in and out of the region was also included.
In 1998, the Cau Vong festival was restored and organised at inter-communal level, attracting tens of thousands of people. However, the organisation of the festival at the relic cluster of Vong temple and pagoda failed to meet visitors’ demands due to poor facilities and festive space.
With time, Cau Vong not only covered Van Cau region but also Yen The region. Tan Yen was the countryside of the two first leaders of the Yen The farmers’ uprising (1884 – 1913), namely Luong Van Nam and Hoang Hoa Tham. Dinh Ha in Tan Trung commune (Tan Yen) was the place where Luong Van Nam held a flag-worshipping ceremony to launch the uprising.
To commemorate predecessors who made remarkable contributions to the country, the People’s Committee of Tan Yen district organised the Cau Vong festival for the first time in the district centre in 2002. It demonstrates the soul of a resilient land in the history of struggling for national independence. Since then, the event has been held every five years at the district level.
This year, in celebration of the 60th founding anniversary of the district (1957 – 2017), the district People’s Committee will open the fourth Cau Vong festival from February 12-13 (or the 16th to 17th day of the first lunar month) along with the eighth sport games. The festival will feature traditional processions and folk games.
The highlight of the festival will be a special art performance under the theme “Tan Yen: Convergence and Development”. It aims to preserve and promote the local cultural heritage values, especially the traditional values of the “Trai Cau Vong Yen The” land.