Tay people in Chiem Hoa district, Tuyen Quang province, bring the offerings for the rituals (Photo: VNA)

Tuyen Quang (VNA) – The Long Tong (going to the field) Festival began in Chiem Hoa district of the northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang on February 23.

The festival, celebrated annually by Tay ethnic minority people in the province on the eighth day of the new lunar year, is a religious ritual dedicated to the god of agriculture to win his blessing for verdant crops and prosperity for villagers throughout the year.

It consists of an offering ritual, a ploughing ceremony and folk games.

[Long Tong, unique farming ritual of the Tay]

When the offerings are ready, a shaman deferentially recites prayers in Tay dialect, inviting gods and goddesses to the rite and asking for their blessing for the village to have bumper crops and growing herds of cattle and be freed from diseases and misfortune.

The offering ritual is followed by the tich dien (ploughing ceremony) in which the festival host leads a carefully selected male buffalo to make the first furrows of the year. In Tay belief, villagers will get good luck and yield bumper crops throughout the year if this buffalo makes straight furrows.

Then comes the most exciting part of the festival, folk games, central to which is nem con (throwing con through the ring on the top of the con pole). Other games in the festival include tug of war, blind man’s bluff and yen playing (a game similar to badminton, but played between a man and a woman).

Long Tong is the most typical festival of the Tay, a big ethnic minority group living in the northern mountain region with a population of over 1.6 million.

The festival was named national intangible cultural heritage in 2013.-VNA