Ca Ong (Whale) Festival
Ca Ong Festival, which is also called Whale Festival, has been for centuries the most important festival for the fishermen of Da Nang. The festival expresses the fishermen’s thanks to whales, respectfully called Grandfather Fish, and prays for a safe and profitable fishing season and a peaceful life for those who face the many challenges and risks at sea.
In Da Nang, Whale Festival is usually held at coastal locations such as Man Thai, Tho Quang, Thanh Loc Dan, Xuan Ha, and Hoa Hiep. For the occasion, the Whale Temple, the houses and the boats are all beautifully decorated.
The festival lasts for two days at the full moon of the first lunar month. It has two parts: the ceremony, and the games and performances. The ceremony is conducted at the whale temple by a board of villagers, comprising moral elders who recently have not had funerals of relatives. Offerings, which do not contain seafood, are made while an oration is read out. The purpose of the ceremony is to respect the Whale God and pray for the safety and prosperity of the fishermen.
The festival includes activities like twirling the basket, boat races, swings, tug-of-war and football competitions, plus special dancing and singing performances including ‘tuong’, ‘ho khoan’ singing and ‘ba trao’ singing (“ba”: grasp, “trao”: row a boat). They all express the solidarity among the fishermen from the same ship which will help them overcome any obstacles and catch a lot of fish. In the evening, there is a procession of boats out to sea in a set formation to show the sincerity of fishermen to their Whale God.