Exploring the traditional “Cau Ngu” Festival in Hai Phong

The festival of Cau Ngu, worship otolithoides biauritus fish of Hai Phong Port City took place on the morning of February 25th (January 10th in the lunar year) in Ngoc Tinh Village, Tan Trao Commune, Kien Thuy District with many unique rituals.

Although along the country, even though there are many Cau Ngu Festivals in other coastal provinces, this festival in Hai Phong City still has special characteristics of its own that is worth much a visit during your Vietnam culture tours. This would undoubtedly a great opportunity for tourists, especially foreign ones to experience one of the special cultural festivals of Vietnam.

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Cau ngu festival in Haiphong
Cau ngu festival in Haiphong

This typical festival of Hai Phong fishermen is held every 3 years after the Lunar New Year to pray for the favorable rain, calm sea, a bumper fish catch and safe boat trip. In the cradle of the hundreds-of-year culture of the largest port city in the North, the Cau Ngu Festival has depicted vividly the traditional customs and preserved the folk culture of the villagers in Ngoc Tinh Village, Tan Trao Commune, Kien Thuy District, Hai Phong City.

This has also been the religious spiritual worship of fishermen in the northern provinces since the ancient times and now has been developing as a new kind of Vietnam culture tours, raising interests in a large number of visitors to Vietnam during this time.

Not only does this festival pray for a good harvest, but it also worships the precious fish – otolithoides biauritus. This is the largest fish in the family of Sciaenidae. Its length can reach up to 160 cm while its weight is over 120 kg and it is worth up to billions of Vietnam dong. This type of fish is worshiped by the local people because of its rareness as well as the high nutritional and economic value.

Many families of fishermen in Ngoc Tinh village have successfully escaped from poverty thanks to this valuable and rare fish. Therefore, nowadays, the festival not only shows respect for this precious fish, contributing to bringing prosperity to the local people, but it is also associated with the flourish of the whole village.

festival in Cat Ba Island Hai phong
festival in Cat Ba Island Hai phong

Ngoc Tinh is an ancient village with a long tradition of “Cau Ngu”. Over time, the festival has been increasingly invested with a variety of exciting activities in order to meet the demand of contemplation, worship of the coastal fishermen as well as both domestic and foreign tourists, becoming a spiritual product of Vietnam culture and outstanding characteristics of Kien Thuy District. This year, the procession of the festival was carefully prepared by the villagers on a larger scale with the desire to strengthen the solidarity among the fishermen in Hai Phong City.

The highlight of this year’s festival was the otolithoides biauritus fish which was made from canary wood and over 1 quintal in weight and the tray of Ong Bo pig weighing about 3 quintals. They were both taken from the Cultural House of Ngoc Tinh Village to the communal house to perform the formal water praying ceremony. Following them, there were many other groups of the local people, including the elderly, youngsters, women carrying flags, ancient musical instruments along with the typical agricultural products.

Besides the meaning of wishing for the favorable rain, calm sea, a bumper fish catch and safe boat trip, the festival also shows respect of Vietnamese people to the merits of the ancestors in the past, as the Chinese proverb “when you drink water, honor the source”. No matter what regions, those are the common features in almost all culture tours in Vietnam.

This is also a chance for the people of the village from all regions in and out of the country to come back and sincerely contribute to the festival, to express their respect, appreciation, gratitude for the predecessor. In the midst of modern life, the Cau Ngu Festival has become a cultural identity of Vietnam in general and a proud cultural beauty of Ngoc Tinh villagers that few places have in particular.