Hue festival honors ritual singing

(VOVWORLD) - The national ritual singing (Hat Van) festival took place in Thua Thien-Hue province in late April as part of the 2018 Hue Festival. The event promotes the traditional singing accompanying Mother Goddesses worship, which was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Thu Hoa reports....
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More than 450 artists from across Vietnam treated festival goers to amazing performances associated with mediumship rituals or Hau dong. When the medium falls into a trance, a session begins. A ritual consists of 36 sessions, each representing a deity, a goddess, or a mandarin.

“Hat van” is a highly rhythmic form of singing that often accompanies “Hau dong” which honors the Mother Goddesses or connects to other gods. It is usually performed in temples. The mediums are believed to be able to communicate with Gods or deities.

"During a trance session, we try to convey the deities’ energy and power to the followers. The performances also aim to tribute the deities’ merits and contributions to the nation," said  Hong Que a medium of the Hue provincial Association of Mother Goddesses worshiping.

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Hau dong is performed on a stage in front of the altar of Mother Goddesses or deities. The  medium can be either male or female who performs the ritual with the help of two assistants. The assistants are in charge of changing the medium's costumes so that he or she is dressed appropriately for each session. A band of musicians sit by the stage playing the flute, the drum and the two-stringed zither. They  are joined by two or three singers who sing when the spirit crosses over to the medium.

At this year’s national ritual singing festival, artists use their creativity and improvisation in their performances, making them more unique and diverse, according to medium Hong Que.

"We’d like to popularize a new mediumship session, which is not included in the 36 sessions already known across Vietnam. It is dedicated to a high-ranking mandarin in the Nguyen dynasty. We are happy and proud as the ritual mediumship was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Mediums and artists like us are committed to doing our best to preserve and promote  ritual singing," said Que.

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The national festival is part of an action program proposed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to preserve and promote the practice of Mother Goddesses worship.

“I’d love to introduce ritual singing and the mediumship ritual to a wider audience. This festival is an ideal opportunity to honor this intangible cultural heritage of Vietnam which many researchers consider a complete art form that perfectly combines music and poetry," said singer Van Phuong of the Vietnam Cheo Theatre.