Time: From the 15th to the 17th day of the
eighth lunar month.
Place: Mausoleum of the Water General, Hung Thanh Hamlet, Can Thanh
Commune, Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City.
Objects of worship: Ong Fish (The Whale).
Characteristics: The cult of the whale of the fishermen in the coastal
areas. Traditional ritual of procession and sacrifice offering.
The festival of welcoming the Lord Whale or the cult of the Lord Whale is
popular in many coastal localities from Ngang Pass to Ha Tien, Phu Quoc Island.
This constitutes one of the biggest festivals of the fishermen. Different names
are given to this festival: the procession of the Whaleï¿½s skeleton, the
ceremony of praying for fish, the sacrifice offering ceremony dedicated to the
Whale, the festival of welcoming the Whale and so on. However it is believed
that the Whale is holy sea creatures, the savior of fishermen and those living
in the sea in general. This traditional popular belief has been handed down from
generation to generation of fishermen in many localities. The tomb of the Water
General, who King Tu Duc conferred the title of Nam Hai Tuong Quan (The General
of the Sea), is the venue for the annual ceremony of the fishermen in Can Gio in
remembrance of the Whale. On the 15th day of theï¿½eighthï¿½lunar month, many
cultural activities take place, stirring up the festive atmosphere.
At about 10 a.m. in the morning of the 16th day of the eighth lunar month,
village dignitaries in traditional outfits carry out the procession of the
palanquin of Nam Hai Tuong Quan to the sea. The fleet of dragon boats sets out
at the Can Gio Wharf in Vung Tau. The fishermen and other people burn incense
and present offerings in welcoming the fleet along its way to the sea. The
dragon boat welcoming the Water General is accompanied by hundreds of boats of
various sizes and decoration. An altar and a tray of offerings are put in the
front of the dragon boat. It takes about two hours for the fleet to come back to
the departure point. Then a procession of the Water General to his tomb is held.
A group of lion and dragon dancers perform to welcome the procession. The
procession follows solemn rites in accordance with traditional rituals. Other
cultural and artistic activities also take place inside and outside the Water
Generalï¿½s tomb, even until late into the night. From 8 a.m to 10 p.m on the
17th day of the eighth lunar month, a ceremony of reading the royal order of
promotion of the Water General is held. This ceremony also features religious
singing. This ritual also puts an end to the festival. The festival in the tomb
of the Water General is inspired with the sincere wishes of the fishermen for
safety in service of their business and their gratitude and honor of the Holy