Hundreds of locals and tourists flocked to the “Le khao le the linh Hoang Sa” (Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers) ceremony in Ly Son island district in the central province of Quang Ngai on April 2.
The annual event is to pay tribute to soldiers and sailors of the Hoang Sa Flotilla under the Nguyen Dynasty, who obeyed the imperial order to travel to Hoang Sa (Paracel) islands every year to exercise national sovereignty over seas and islands.
Following a traditional offering ceremony was a boat race with the participation of nearly 100 people divided into four teams.
About three to four centuries ago, each year the Nguyen Lords selected 70 villagers from An Vinh and An Hai wards in Ly Son island to go to Hoang Sa to exploit marine resources.
Later, at the end of the 16th century, the Hoang Sa Flotilla was set up. Tens of thousands of sailors overcame storms and roaring waves to measure sea routes and erect steles on islands to affirm territorial sovereignty as well as to harvest seafood and other maritime resources.
Ly Son island covers an area of less than 10 sq.km but it has nearly 100 relics, most of which are related to the Hoang Sa Flotilla, such as the empty graves built for Hoang Sa soldiers who never returned to land, the temples dedicated to Pham Quang Anh and Vo Van Khiet who were captains of the Hoang Sa Flotilla, and a showroom displaying the items of the Hoang Sa Flotilla sailors who also controlled Bac Hai and Ba Ri Lagoon.
In particular, “Le khao le the linh Hoang Sa” which is held every April on the island was recognised as part of the national intangible cultural heritage by the State in 2016.
A monument and memorial house dedicated to the Hoang Sa Flotilla stand near the main road of the island.