Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers (Source: VNA)
Quang Ngai (VNA) – The annual “Le khao le the linh Hoang Sa” (Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers) ceremony took place in An Vinh communal house, Ly Son island district, the central province of Quang Ngai on April 22.

The event, held annually in the second lunar month and on the 15 th and 16 th days of the third lunar month, is to pay tribute to the sailor-soldiers who sacrificed their lives over the centuries guarding the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes.

The event has been observed through hundreds of years by communities in Ly Son Island and many coastal areas in Quang Ngai. It is recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage by the State.

During the rituals, paper boats with effigies of sailors are launched into the seas and respects are paid to the lost sailors’ symbolic tombs.

According to Vietnam’s feudal state history, the Hoang Sa Flotilla was set up when the Nguyen Lords began their reign in the south of the country.

Thousands of sailors overcame roaring waves and storms to survey sea routes, plant milestones and erect steles affirming national territory in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes, and mine marine resources under the order of the Nguyen Lords. Their missions were full of dangers, and many of them never returned to land.

Therefore, before the soldiers left for their missions, a feast was held for them, hence the beginning of the tradition.

Ly Son Island covers an area of less than 10 sq.km but it has nearly 100 relics, most of which are related to the Hoang Sa Flotilla, such as the sacred temple, the empty graves built for those Hoang Sa soldiers who never returned, the communal houses of An Vinh and An Hai Villages, the chambers worshipping Pham Quang Anh and Vo Van Khiet who were captains of the Hoang Sa Flotilla, the showroom displaying the items of the Hoang Sa Flotilla who also controlled Bac Hai and Ba Ri Lagoon.-VNA