The exclusively Vietnamese custom of people in certain fishing villages worshipping whales is certainly not a thing of the past.

Indeed, in several villages from north to south Vietnam, temples are set aside to seek blessing from the whales and to invite them to help provide a bountiful catch for the year.

On Jan.30, about 10,000 fishermen gathered in the southern province of Bac Lieu's Hoa Binh district to join the first whale worship festival to be held in the region.

The event has been popular in coastal provinces from central Quang Binh southward because of a belief that the large sea mammals rescue people in danger and accompany them to shore.

At Jan.30's celebrations, residents with flags, drums and trumpets set out to sea in dozens of motor-boats in the early morning as a new temple, Duyen Hai drew crowds of visitors.

At the junction of the sea and river, the fishermen's orchestra reached a crescendo to invite passing whales to become official deities at the temple.

The fishermen also prayed that the whales would help them catch fish and bring prosperity.

The three-day festival also hosted various artistic performances and folk games to entertain festival goers.

Timing for the festival is different from province to province. /.