The annual Nghinh Ong festival for fishermen to worship the whale to seek good luck at sea will open in HCM City's coastal district of Can Gio on Sept. 9.

The four-day event will include a ceremonial offering by village elders to show gratitude to the whale, known reverently as Ca Ong, and commemorate fishermen who died at sea.

A procession by locals in traditional clothes will begin from the sea and end at the Ong Thuy Tuong Temple.

The highlight of the festival will be the release of colourful lanterns in the sea by young people to pray for a new and better fishing season.

This year the Nghinh Ong festival will also feature folk games, artistic performances, martial arts, and sports competitions.

But the sporting connection will be intense – the National Athletics Championship will begin on Sept 10when the Can Gio Open Marathon will be run.

Winners in the former event will qualify to represent Vietnam at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Indonesia next month.

"We hope to take sport to young people," Nguyen Trung Hinh, deputy chairman of the city Athletics Federation and a member of the festival organising board, said.

The organisers have also worked with authorities in Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An, and Tien Giang provinces to launch tours to offer tourists a varied experience.

They hope to attract thousands of local and foreign visitors.

Fishermen believe that whales rescue people in danger and accompany them to the safety of the shore. Over time they began to celebrate an annual festival to cherish the giant creatures between the 14th and 17th of the eighth lunar month.

It also provides them the time to pray for peace, prosperity, and happiness for the whole community.

The festival has come to epitomise traditional cultural values, reflect the local spirit, and celebrate life.

Nghinh Ong is also celebrated in other coastal provinces around the country./.