Embracing the National Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Dom Long Néak Ta festival

On the afternoon of April 11, the Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism organized a ceremony to officially recognize the Dom Long Néak Ta festival as a national intangible cultural heritage of the Khmer community in Tra Vinh province.

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Delegate attending the ceremony

The event was attended by Mr. Le Thanh Binh, Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee; Mr. Nguyen Huu Dat, Head of the representative office of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in Ho Chi Minh City; along with former provincial leaders and current heads of provincial departments and agencies.

Within the ancient beliefs of the Khmer community, Néak Ta is revered as a deity of happiness and protection, safeguarding the phum and squirrels. This worship of Néak Ta is widespread, resonating not only with the Khmer community but also with the Kinh and Chinese ethnic groups. Presently, Tra Vinh province boasts over 240 shrines dedicated to Néak Ta.

The Dom Long Néak Ta Festival is an annual event, traditionally held during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th lunar months at the Néak Ta temples. The festival serves as a prayer for a bountiful new harvest, wishing peace, prosperity, and good health for every household and individual within the community.

The festival also offers a chance for the community to come together. It's a time to check on each other's well-being, share agricultural experiences, and strengthen community bonds while enjoying some well-deserved leisure and entertainment after days of hard work.

On February 21, 2024, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism issued Decision No. 377/QD-BVHTTDL, officially listing the Dom Long Néak Ta festival of Tra Vinh's Khmer community as a national intangible cultural heritage, specifically under the category of traditional festivals.

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Leaders of the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Tra Vinh receiving the certificate of national intangible cultural heritage

Speaking at the ceremony, Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee, Mr. Le Thanh Binh, emphasized that the Dom Long Néak Ta festival is deeply humanistic. It has evolved into a cultural activity rich in folk traditions and has become an essential spiritual element in the lives of the Khmer people in Tra Vinh. The festival significantly contributes to nurturing a spiritually rich and healthy community life, thereby strengthening ethnic unity in the region.

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Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee, Mr. Le Thanh Binh, speaking at the ceremony

To celebrate and promote the distinctive traditional cultural values of the province, Mr. Binh proposed that the cultural sector continue its efforts in effective conservation and exploitation. This would support the educational initiatives in traditional cultural values, tying them closely with tourism promotion. He also stressed the importance of enhancing public awareness and education regarding the significance of cultural heritage values at large, and particularly highlighted the Dom Long Néak Ta festival.

Additionally, he suggested collecting and systematizing documents and artifacts related to the Dom Long Néak Ta festival for preservation and promotion purposes. An annual study to restore some of the most representative aspects of the Dom Long Néak Ta festival should be undertaken, aiming to develop cultural, spiritual, and religious tourism resources.

The Dom Long Néak Ta Festival now stands as Tra Vinh province's seventh national intangible cultural heritage. The preceding six heritages comprise the art of "Cham binh cha pay" of the Khmer ethnic community, the Ok Om Bok festival of the Khmer people in Tra Vinh, the art of "Southern Don Ca Tai Tu", the "Ceremony" My Long Sea Worshiping Festival in My Long town, Cau Ngang district, the Khmer Ro-ham art in Tra Vinh province, and the Vu Lan Thang Festival in Cau Ke district.

Phuong An

Hoang Khiem (translator)

Map of Tra Vinh
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