Le Mat Snake Festival

Over the years, Le Mat Village in Viet Hung Ward, Long Bien District, Hanoi has been famous nationwide for not only snake catching and breeding, but also its distinctive festival.

The festival is annually held on March 20-24 of the lunar calendar to worship the village’s tutelary god of the Hoang Family.

Legend has it that one day while the daughter of King Ly Thai Tong (1072-1127) was on a pleasant boat cruise with her maids on the Duong River, a big snake, which was considered a water monster, overturned the boat and caught the princess.

The crew could do nothing to protect the unfortunate princess. But a young man in the Hoang Family from Le Mat Village dove into the water, fought against the monster and, in the end, succeeded in killing it and saving the princess.

King Ly Thai Tong was deeply impressed by the young man’s feat and gave him a reward in gold and court titles. But the hero graciously rejected the reward and, instead, requested the King to allow him and a number of poor people to reclaim land in the areas west of the capital in Thang Long.

As the King gave his assent, the young man led the poor to reclaim their land and established 13 prosperous and famous agricultural settlements in the neighbourhood of Thang Long. When the man passed away, the locals honoured him as the village’s tutelary god and every year organize a festival to commemorate him.

Le Mat Village Festival consists of many unique rites and folk activities, such as the water offering ceremony, the snake killing dance – one of the ten ancient dances in the imperial capital of Thang Long and the rite of catching carp in the village well.

With many ancient cultural features, Le Mat Village Festival is one of the most unique festivals in the country, attracting a large number of tourists.

le mat snake village, le mat festival

The rite of offering water to the village’s tutelary god.

 le mat snake village, le mat festival

Catching carp in the village well is one of the most typical rites in Le Mat Village Festival.

 le mat snake village, le mat festival

13 young men, representatives from 13 former agricultural settlements, are selected to catch carp in the village well to offer to the village’s tutelary god.

le mat snake village, le mat festival

Carp are placed on a bronze tray to offer to the village’s tutelary god.

le mat snake village, le mat festival

 The tray of offerings is carried by the Hoang Family elders in the village.

 le mat snake village, le mat festival

Carp in the village well is a strange species which has a natural red stamp on its head.

 le mat snake village, le mat festival

 On March 23 of the lunar calendar, the villagers in 13 former settlements flock to Le Mat Village’s Communal House to offer incense to the village’s tutelary god.

 le mat snake village, le mat festival

Hoang Van Dau, the village elder, has participated in the festival for 80 times.

 le mat snake village, le mat festival

Enjoying traditional dances in the festival.

 le mat snake village, le mat festival

 Enjoying the performance of the young man killing the snake and saving the princess as in the legend. It is one of the ten ancient dances of the imperial capital of Thang Long.

 le mat snake village, le mat festival

After offering incense to the village’s tutelary god, the representative of each settlement asks for an incense burner to worship with the hope of receiving good luck in the New Year.


Source: VNP

le mat snake village, le mat festival
 
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