The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has added Then singing and Long Tong festival – two typical cultural features of the Tay ethnic minority groups in the north – to the list of national intangible cultural heritage.

Nguyen Viet Thanh, head of Tuyen Quang province's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, announced the news on January 11, adding that Then singing is practised by the Tay people in the northern provinces of Quang Ninh, Lao Cai and Tuyen Quang whilst the Long Tong festival is only found in Tuyen Quang.

Then singing, which expresses the emotions and reflects the daily activities of working people, is a distinctive musical genre of the Tay communities.

The Long Tong festival, representing "going to the fields", starts on the second of the first lunar month and runs until early lunar February. It reflects local people's desire for good crops, health and lots of children and grandchildren.

The ceremony involves solemn rituals in honour of local spirits to thank them for the crops and to ask for their support so local people can enjoy favourable weather conditions and have a comfortable, healthy, safe and happy life in the New Year.

The event also features diverse folk games including nem con (a game in which boys and girls throw cloth balls), tug-of-war and folk dancing and singing.

Thanh said the authorities plan to organise various activities in the near future to preserve the Long Tong festival and Then singing rituals. -VNA