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Vietnam island holds centuries-old boat race

Monday, February 23, 2015, 13:10 GMT+7
Vietnam island holds centuries-old boat race
The "Tu Linh" (Four Sacred Things) boat race on Ly Son Island off the central province of Quang Ngai

A boat race, the largest annual festival on Ly Son Island off a central Vietnamese province, is currently running to pay homage to natives’ ancestry and soldiers who have fought for the country’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes.

The boat race, called “Tu Linh” (Four Sacred Things), kicked off in Ly Son District in Quang Ngai Province on Sunday morning and will close on Thursday next week, or from the fourth to the eighth day of the Lunar New Year.

The island was home to the Hoang Sa Flotilla, which safeguarded the two archipelagoes hundreds of years ago.

The festival, which is over 300 years old, was designed to select muscular, courageous young men for the troops under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) – the country’s last monarchy – who erected national sovereignty poles and collected sea rarities.

Over the course of time, the festival has retained its original meaning of paying homage to predecessors and praying for blessings and bumper catches.

The event is also an occasion for young local men to train and show off their flair in maneuvering boats.

The five-day fest has drawn an influx of locals and tourists.

Local men are seen climbing onto trees for a better view of the boat race in Ly Son Island. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Teams compete hard at the "Tu Linh" boat race on Ly Son Island. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Spectators watch the boat race on Ly Son Island. Photo: Tuoi Tre

In related news, a Lunar New Year fishing kick-off ceremony was organized on Saturday, or the third day of the lunar year, at Sa Huynh Estuary off Pho Thanh Commune in the province’s Duc Pho District.

The annual fest, which has been cherished for several hundred years, featured traditional dances, rituals to pray for bumper catches and art performances, Vietnamplus reported.

The festival concluded with the departure of almost 20 local vessels to begin the new fishing season.

Pho Thanh Commune boasts the province’s largest fleets, with its vessels making up 25 percent of Quang Ngai’s overall capacity.

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Traditional dances as part of the Lunar New Year fishing kick-off ceremony in Pho Thanh Commune in the central province of Quang Ngai. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

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