Pig procession festival in La Phu village

(VOVWORLD) - Every year on the 13th day of the first lunar month, a pig procession festival is held in La Phu village, Hoai Duc district, Hanoi, to commemorate the Great Holy Tam Lang, a talented general in the 6th King Hung Due Vuong, who fought to bring peace to the nation.
Pig procession festival in La Phu village - ảnh 1

La Phu village communal house (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV5)

La Phu village was chosen by general Tam Lang as a troop station. Legend has it that whenever general Tam Lang set out to fight the enemy, La Phu villagers prepared steamed sticky rice and pork to feed the general and his troops. General Tam Lang was later worshiped as the village Tutelary God.

The general died at midnight on the 13th day of the first lunar month. Ever since, on that day, La Phu villagers organize a pig procession festival to honor the death anniversary of general Tam Lang.

Nguyen Phan Dich, head of the festival’s organizing board, said: “Our village’s tutelary god was a talented general who squashed the rebellion. He was invincible. In the village communal house, we prepare 6 trays of pork as an offering.”

At the beginning of each year, each hamlet in the village chooses one family to host the pig procession and another family to raise Mr. Pig. The two families should be respectable and have both boys and girls. Their descendants should be successful, and the families should have nor family death in the previous year.

Ta Tuong Bang of Doan Ket hamlet told VOV: “It’s a great honor to be selected to host the procession. The slaughtered pig is put into a palanquin and decorated with paper flowers on the head, ears, snout, and tail. The pig’s side fat is used to cover Mr. Pig for decoration together with flowers and reliefs around the palanquin. An offering includes a palanquin of Mr. Pig, a palanquin of steamed sticky rice, and a palanquin of flowers and fruits. A lion dance troop and an octet carrying flags, banners, and canopies lead the procession from the host’s house to the village communal house.”

Pig procession festival in La Phu village - ảnh 2 The elders are performing a ritual at La Phu communal house (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV5)

Every February the selection of pigs begins. The pigs should be well-proportioned, good-looking, weigh 60 to 70kg, and will receive special care with raising cost contributed by the whole village. Pigs are respectably called "Mr. Pig".  If a "Mr. Pig" gets sick, the raiser must bring offerings to the communal house to pray for him to get better soon.

Nguyen Phu Son, who has been chosen to raise Mr. Pig in Doan Ket hamlet, said: “The pigs should be completely white. In the past, the worshipped pigs were small but today weigh at least 200 kilos and are bred like other ordinary pigs. They are fed two meals a day. To begin, they are fed the same mash given to any other pig. After they reach 10 months old, they should only be fed porridge, sugar cane, and vegetables. For each of the first ten months, it puts on 15 kilos. After that it doesn’t put on much weight.”

At 6 p.m., the "pigs" and other offerings are paraded around the village to a stirring drum beat. According to village custom, hamlets nearest the communal house parade Mr. Pig first. At 9.00 p.m., Mr. Pig is brought into the communal house. At midnight, the elders begin a ritual which will last until 2 a.m. After the ceremony, the pork is divided among the families of the hamlets for a good luck.

Nguyen Phan Dich, head of the organizing board of the La Phu village festival, said: “In the past 6 trays of pigs were offered. That increased to 11 trays and now it is 17, because there are 17 hamlets. But only 6 pig trays are allowed into the communal house. The hamlets take turns presenting their pigs for the ritual. Every 5 years a big ceremony is organized. This year’s ceremony is special because 2019 is the Year of the Pig with a procession from the communal house to the place where the Great Holy Tam Lang incarnated, 3km from the communal house.”

Pig procession festival in La Phu village - ảnh 3

The procession of Mr. Pig (Photo: Ngoc Anh/VOV5)

Culture and sports activities are held during the pig procession festival, which lasts 3 days, from the 10th to the 13th of the first lunar month. These activities include folk games, music and dancing, cheo singing, ca tru singing, volleyball, table tennis, and badminton.