Dien Bien: Traditional festival held in memory of peasant hero
Update: Apr 04, 2016
The Ban Phu Citadel Festival was opened in Noong Het Commune, Dien Bien District, the northern province of Dien Bien, on April 1 to pay homage to Hoang Cong Chat, who restored peace to the mountainous region nearly 300 years ago.

In around 1740, the Phe invaders from China came to occupy the Muong Thanh area of Dien Bien and spread to Thuan Chau, an area which is now in nearby Son La Province.

Hoang Cong Chat led his troops to the occupied regions in 1751 and coordinated with Lo Ngai and Lo Khanh, who were local peoples. They defeated the Phe invaders three years later.

In 1758, Chat’s troops began building Ban Phu Citadel and finished the construction in 1762. They based themselves in the citadel and protected a vast area in the northwest of Viet Nam.

The Ban Phu Citadel Festival is organised on the 24th day of the second lunar month – the death anniversary of Hoang Cong Chat, which falls on April 1 this year.

Visitors to the two-day event can witness traditional rituals such as a palanquin procession and the worship of Hoang Cong Chat, and join in folk games like tug-of-war, throwing “con” (sacred balls) through a ring, and pushing canes.

Twenty-five amateur arts troupes across Dien Bien will also bring to the festival performances deeply imbued with their ethnic groups’ identities.

On March 31, a certificate was presented to recognise the Ban Phu Citadel Festival (or Hoang Cong Chat Temple Festival) as part of the national intangible cultural heritage.

The same heritage status was also given to the ancient “xoe” dancing of the Thai ethnic group in Dien Bien.