An annual festival dedicated to Vua Ba goddess in Viem Xa village in northern Bac Ninh province has been acknowledged as a national intangible heritage.
The event, often called Diem village festival, falls on the 6th day of the lunar year’s second month. It honours Vua Ba, the creator of renowned Quan Ho (folk love duets) in the province. Locals consider the festival as an occasion to gather after a year of hard work, to sing and pray for prosperity and bumper harvests.
The festival entails a parade, ceremonies of god worshiping and statue bathing and various folk games. Quan Ho singing is performed in different locations across Viem Xa as a highlight of the day.
Legend has it that Vua Ba was the daughter of Hung King the fifth. When she reached the marriage age, her father opened a contest, where men competed against each other to take possession of a ball and the winner would marry the princess. However, Vua Ba refused the marriage arrangement. Instead, she asked the King to allow her to travel the kingdom.
When the princess and her servants left the citadel, a strong wind rose. It blew the entourage to Viem Trang hamlet, which later became Viem Xa village (unofficially known as Diem village). Back then, the place was a wilderness area occupied by reeds. Vua Ba came helping locals build their village and create a means of livelihood. She taught them cultivation and Quan Ho singing. After the princess passed away, villagers built a temple and held an annual festival to remind them of her significant contributions.
Quan Ho singing was recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2009.