DER Documentary

Drums on the Red River

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by Lan Phuong, Jayasinhji Jhala, Hoang Son, Lauren Meeker
color, 73 min, 2010

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Once a year in Yen Vinh, Hung Yen Province a grand three-day festival is held at a temple by the banks of the Red River to worship the god Chu Dong Tu and his two wives, Tien Dung and Tay Sa. During the festival, three area villages converge on the main temple complex to participate in the ritual offerings, folk games, ca tru singing, and other events.

On the second day of the festival, a water procession takes place on the Red River that mimics the Princess Tien Dung's fated river journey in which she encountered the poor fisherman Chu Dong Tu hiding in the sand. During the procession, in an elaborate ritual conducted by the elders of the participating villages, water is poured into a porcelain jar. This sacred water will be used in temple rituals throughout the year.

This film documents the Chu Dong Tu festival of 2007. The festival was revived in 1986, the year in which the economic and political reforms were passed in Vietnam. The festival is an important example of the widespread revival of traditional folk festivals that has followed reform.

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