Chaos broke out in northern Vietnam as thousands of young men in Phu Tho Province battled to secure the ‘lucky balls’ during a traditional festival on Saturday.
During the spring time festival called ‘Phet Hien Quan,’ which took place on the afternoon of the 13th day of the Lunar New Year, thousands of young men in Hien Quan Commune, Tam Nong District scrambled for the ‘phet’ and ‘chui,’ small balls considered symbols of luck, which resulted in verbal and physical violence.
The event has been celebrated annually for decades to commemorate Thieu Hoa, the female general who helped the Trung Sisters, two iconic Vietnamese heroines, fight against invaders in 40 AD.
The lucky balls are made from bamboo trees and covered with polished red paint. Unlike the similar festival taking place in neighboring Vinh Phuc Province on February 14, which had only one lucky ball, the event in Phu Tho had a total of nine balls, including six ‘phet’ and three ‘chui,’ which are similar to ‘phet’ and only smaller.
According to the tradition, individuals who manage to steal one of the balls shall be blessed with fortune for the whole year.
The young men, divided in teams of 10 to 20 representing their villages, battled against each other to win the lucky balls.
At around 3:00 pm, after the balls were brought to an empty area and buried underground, the mayhem officially began.
The ‘lucky balls’ with different sizes, ‘phet’ and ‘chui’ are seen being placed on the altar during the ceremony before being brought to an empty area. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The young men climb onto each other in order to steal the balls. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A man with a huge tattoo on his back prepares to charge into the crowd to catch the ‘phet.' Photo: Tuoi Tre
A young man raises his fist toward the crowd as an effort to steal the ‘phet.' Photo: Tuoi Tre
One person tries to escape from the crowd after managing to steal one of the lucky balls. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A man is seen being dragged away from the crowd by his teammates after fainting in the chaotic struggle. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A young man covered with mud lies exhausted on the ground. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The situation intensifies as everyone rushed to compete for the final ‘phet.’ Photo: Tuoi Tre
Confrontation and violence breaks out after all of the ‘phet’ have been stolen. Photo: Tuoi Tre