Tet Doan Ngo, or the Vietnamese Bug Killing Festival, is usually held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. This year, the festival falls on June 3. Vietnamese believes that this time is the transition from spring to summer with a climate conducive to the proliferation of insects and diseases. Thus, it is a necessity to throw a festival to get rid of them.

On the occasion of the Double Fifth Festival, Thang Long – Hanoi Heritage Conservation Center organized a cultural program entitled “Doan Ngo Festival: Past and Present 2022” on June 1.

The highlight of the program is the “Fan-Giving Ritual” in which the king of the Later Le Dynasty (1428 to 1789) gave paper fans to their mandarins. According to Vietnamese belief, this is the day that marks the beginning of the summer, therefore, the “Fan-Giving Ritual” is an important ceremony, showcasing the King’s concern for his underlings. 

Vice Chairman of municipal People’s Committee Chu Xuan Dung (fourth from right) and UNESCO Representative in Vietnam Christian Manhart (second from left) and delegates performed the opening ceremony of the program.

According to historian Le Van Lan, there were many rituals performed in the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long during the Later Le Dynasty, including the ceremonies of ancestor revering, awarding edible sea swift’s nests (a food particularly prized due to its rarity, high protein content and rich flavor) and giving fans, among others. Accordingly, the “Fan-Giving Ritual” is usually held in the Doan Ngo Festival.

This is the first time this important ceremony has been recreated at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, which is held solemnly, leaving viewers bowled over. Children attending the program learn the unique rituals that only took place during the Doan Ngo Festival such as the custom of “killing insects with food”, and the ritual of wearing five-color amulets for good health. They also explore the spaces of Hanoi’s Old Quarter Street and Vietnamese traditional medicine, among others.

Visitors to Thang Long Imperial Citadel on this occasion will have the opportunity to admire the fan collection created by artist Duong Van Doan. The highlight of the collection is a huge fan decorated with a poem composed in 1503 by King Le Hien Tong (1461 –1504).

Under the guidance of artisan Duong Van Doan, little visitors to Thang Long Imperial Citadel will also have a chance to learn about fan-making processes.

Culinary artist Nguyen Anh Tuyet introduced dishes for Doan Ngo Festival, including fresh seasonal fruits, ruou nep (fermented steamed sticky rice), banh tro (cake cooked from glutinous rice with mistletoe ash) which will be eaten all with an expectation of getting rid of all insects that harms the crops and germs from inside human digestive system.

According to Director of the Thang Long – Hanoi Heritage Conservation Center Nguyen Thanh Quang, the “Doan Ngo Festival: Past and Present 2022” program aimed to honor and educate the young generation about the nation’s cultural traditions, as well as diversify tourism products to lure visitors to the Thang Long Imperial Citadel.