The unique Nuoc Man festival
13:13', 15/12/ 2010 (GMT+7)

The Nuoc Man (salt water) festival is one of the traditional festivals with a large scale that was given early birth more than four centuries ago in Binh Dinh. It is organized at Chua Ba (Lady Temple), An Hoa hamlet, Phuoc Quang commune, Tuy Phuoc district.

About 400 years ago, the area of An Hoa hamlet was a famous and busy trading port. The Chinese immigrants from Canton, Fujian came here to set up and do business.  Since then, the Salt Water festival came into being and was held at Chua Ba marking the prosperity of the coastal trading port. In the same time, it symbolizes the Vietnamese-Chinese cultural harmony when the South boundary of Dai Viet (Great Viet, 1054-1804) was limited at Mount Da Bia (headstone), Deo Ca (Main Mountain pass), Phu Yen. With time went on, it had been maintained, developed, and gone through ups and downs in tunes with this trading port. Up to the present time, the downgrading condition and the transformation has turned this place into a Quyet, rural area. However, Chua Ba is still there, and the Nuoc Man festival has been continually celebrated as a commemoration of the city at the trading port which was once a business and cultural center of Binh Dinh, and as a symbol of friendly relationship between Chinese and Vietnamese, who joined together to build Chua Ong or Quan Thanh De Mieu (Sir Temple), and Chua Ba or Thien Hau Mieu to worship them. Chua Ba is a place to worship Thien Hau, Queen of Heaven (Thien Hau Thanh Mau), a great legendary character, who rescues ships, boats in high danger at sea.  The custom to worship the Heaven Queen of Chinese, coupled with the custom to worship Mothers of Vietnamese is the key spirit of the Salt Water festival. Particularly, during the festival, the locals light up lanterns, and each household prepares foods and drinks to welcome visitors from all over the world to come to attend the festival. It is considered as the second New Year festival of a year.

The initiation of the festival marks the far-away coastal land of Great Viet, which reached a period of prosperity and the symbol for the harmonious spirit between Chinese and Vietnamese cultures. Up to now, Chua Ba has been still in existence and the Salt Water festival has been still in celebration as the symbol of the local culture. It is held every year from the first to the third day of February in Lunar calendar and it strongly highlights the local cultural characteristics, which attracts not only people within the districts and the province, but those from other provinces to come and attend.

Along with the image of the trading port, the traditional colors of the Nuoc Man festival has faded away with time through a great number of historic events. From a muddy swamp with the ocean water flowing to waterways and rising up and down, it was developed through many generations to turn it into a prosperous trading port. Built up by rivers and covered by oceans, the Salt Water port has no chance to be like Hoi An, which still keeps its original shape as before. For that reason, the Salt Water festival is considered as a recollection of the biggest urban trading port of the district of Quy Nhon in the past. It was deteriorated and has been converted into present-day Quy Nhon city.

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