Time: The 9th day of the eighth lunar month.
Place: Do Son Dist., Haiphong City.
Objects of worship: Water genie.
Characteristics: Buffalo fighting, the cult of water genie.
The Buffalo Fight in Do Son (Haiphong City) is officially held every year on the 9th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. There are, in fact, two rounds of elimination before the middle of the fifth month and 8th day of the sixth lunar month.
The preparation for this festival is very elaborate. Fighting buffaloes must be carefully selected, well fed, and trained. These buffaloes must be between 4 and 5 years old, with a good appearance, a wide chest, a big groin, a long neck, an acute bottom, and bow shaped horns. The fighting buffaloes are fed in separate cages to keep them from contact with common buffaloes.
The beginning of the worshipping ceremony lasts until lunch time. A typical procession begins with an octet and a big procession chair, carried by six strong young men. The six clean buffaloes that are part of the ceremony are covered with red cloths and bound with reddish bands on their horns. There are 24 young men who dance and wave flags as two teams of troops start fighting. After this event, a pair of buffaloes are led to opposite sides of the festival grounds and are made to stand near two flags called Ngu Phung. When the right signal is released, the two buffaloes are moved to within 20m of each other. At the next signal, the two leaders release the ropes that are attached to the noses of the buffaloes. The two buffaloes then rush into each other with well practiced movements. The spectators then shout and urge the fighting along.
At the completion of the fight, the spectacle of “receiving the buffaloes” is very interesting as the leaders must then catch the winning buffalo to grant it its reward.
The Buffalo Fight in Do Son is a traditional festival that is attached to a Water God worshipping ceremony and the “Hien Sinh” custom. The most typical reason for the ceremony is to express the martial spirit of the local people in Do Son, Haiphong.