A traditional ceremony commemorating sailors of Hoang Sa (Paracel) Flotilla, took place in An Vinh communal temple, Ly Son island district, central Quang Ngai province on April 4.
The annual “Le khao le the linh Hoang Sa” ((Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers) ceremony is to pay tribute to the soldiers and sailors who sacrificed their lives over the centuries guarding the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes.
The event has been observed through hundreds of years by communities in Ly Son islands and many coastal areas in Quang Ngai.
According to Vietnam’s feudal state history, the Hoang Sa Flotilla was set up when the Nguyen Lords began their reign in the south of the country. Thousands of sailors overcame roaring waves and storms to survey sea routes, plant milestones and erect steles affirming national territory in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes, and mine marine resources under the order of Nguyen Lords. Their missions were full of dangers, and many of them never returned to land. Therefore, before the soldiers left for their mission, a feast was held for them, hence the beginning of the tradition.
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 sacred temple, the empty graves built for those Hoang Sa soldiers who never returned, the communal houses of An Vinh and An Hai Villages, the chambers worshipping Pham Quang Anh and Vo Van Khiet who were captains of the Hoang Sa Flotilla, the showroom displaying the items of the Hoang Sa Flotilla 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 has been recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage by the State.
A monument and the memorial house dedicated to the Hoang Sa Flotilla stand near the main road of the island. The exhibits at the memorial house include the mats, identity cards, bamboo splints and rolls of rattan strings, which the militia-soldiers often took with them on each trip to Hoang Sa.