Muc Dong Parade Festival in Da Nang is celebrated mainly for kids who spend most of their time working on the fields to take care of their buffaloes. It is held in Phong Lệ village, Da Nang, Vietnam every three years, and it falls on the two last days of March in Lunar calendar with the purpose of praying for an abundant crop.
Legend has it that, once upon a time in Phong Lệ village, there stayed a green grass isle. One day, a man herded his flock of ducks onto the top of the isle. Suddenly, the ducks’ webbed foot got stuck in the soil that they could hardly move. Villagers named it “Isle of God” due to the fact that they thought the God showed up and grabbed the whole flock with his own hands. After that, everyone was afraid of this place and they never came here. However, on another day, some buffaloes got lost wandering off around the area, and the herd-boys (boys taking care of these buffaloes) climbed up the isle. There was nothing bad happening to them. Then rumor has it that, only the herd-boys (Muc Dong) have got the permission from God to hang out nearby. The isle has got to become a meeting destination for local herd-boys later on. It has been remained the same throughout many generations and gradually formed up into an official festival in Da Nang. This festival used to be held once every 3 years then 6 years and nowadays 12 years to remind of the children who look after the buffaloes in Phong Le Village.
During the last ten days of March when people get more free time from their on-field work, it comes to a busy period for the festival’s preparation. The landowners considered middle –peasants as the ones to take care of everything inside out. Apart from small flags of the herd-boys, the big ones are carefully provided by 13 big cliques in the village as well. Big flags are seen with 5-meter bamboo flagstaffs, featured images of Four Holy Animals which are Dragon, Oriental Unicorn, Tortoise and Phoenix; or Four Main Classes known as Intellectuals, Farmers, Workers and Traders respectively. They are common expressions in a typical traditional Asian nation like China or Vietnam. Above all, the most popular images are always agricultural items like a plough, a hoe or a shovel.
On March 29th, villagers are all gathering, even those who are settling down in far-off cities. The herd-boys will hold their flags altogether walking around the rice paddies in order to wish for a prosperous and abundant crop ahead. 30th of March is the main day of the festival, when everyone unites at a temple called “Temple of the Herd-boy”. The leader walks, prays and places a statue of Agricultural God into a palanquin carried by a group of 4 herd-boys of the same height to the isle.
People say that the moment when the Sun is above the top of the bamboo range is also the right time for the festival to be finished. Everyone comes back to a normal daily life with their field works in a strong belief in a successful crop waiting ahead.