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Traditional values well preserved in Vietnam's northwest (November 18, 2003)

Vietnam’s northwestern region, embraces Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Son La and Lao Cai provinces. The area is home to millions of people from various ethnic minority groups and has become for its wealth of traditional cultural characteristics.

The distinctive cultural identities of people living in the northwestern provinces are reflected the differing aspects of their daily routine and their costumes, festivals, ritual celebrations and entertainment. A Dutch researcher, Douglas Hawsarth, who is working on a project to promote tourism in the region, said: "The Muong people often build settlements at the foot of mountains or alongside streams. Thai people prefer to gather on the flats near rivers while the H’mong people live among the vertical ranges of the rugged mountains. The typical costumes of the Tay people are made from cotton fabrics dyed with indigo whilst the Dao people are distinguished by the large scarf they wrap around their head. Thai women wear tight dresses but those of H’mong women are a bit loose. The costumes of northwestern ethnic people are diverse in their patterns and colors, and are hand-made from cotton fabrics".

With their diversity of languages, minority groups in the northwestern region have a great volume of invaluable folkloric music, fairy tales and poetry. Lo Thi Phuong, a Thai ethnic woman from Lai Chau province, said: "The Thai ethnic minority group has a rich inheritance of dance. We love dancing and we learn the art from early childhood. Dances can be performed at any time, but most particularly during festivals or community activities."

Visitors to the northwestern region are also treated to a great many unique festivals and fetes, including the Gau Toa, Long Tong and Roong Boc ceremonies. During these events, young locals wear new costumes and join each other in games, sports competitions and performances.

Director of the Hoa Binh provincial Department of Culture and Information, Bach Quoc Khanh, explained the Dinh Lem-Ben Lap traditional festival of the Muong people: "This ritual involves praying for favorable weather. The people also ask for fruitful harvest and bumper crops."

The northwestern region, where traditional cultural values are well preserved, has made significant contributions to enriching the treasure trove of Vietnam’s culture. Major folk festivals, which have been restored over the years, have revitalized the time-honored images of the wealth of cultural legacy in the region.

Reprinted from VOV News


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