Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival


The Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival is a unique way for world travelers to indulge in Vietnamese culture while exploring an annual tradition.

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About Do Son Bufalo Fighting Festival

As the name suggests, this celebration involves buffalo fighting each other during elimination rounds. While it may sound unusual, this tradition is taken very seriously in Vietnam, and preparations for the fights are extremely elaborate.This year, the festival will occur on September 6 at the stadium of Do Son Town in Hai Phong City. However, participants will prepare for the event months in advance. These individuals aim to select the ideal buffalo, looking for characteristics such as a long neck, a wide chest and bow-shaped horns. The animals must also be between 4 and 5 years old. Once these creatures are chosen, they are trained for months. During this time, the buffalo are well-fed and kept away from all other animals. Many locals pick their favorite buffalo before the actual fight, and some even hold prayer ceremonies the night before to wish their chosen creature good luck.

Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival

When the day of the festival finally arrives, a large parade is led down the streets and the selected buffalo are led to the fighting arena by 24 men. Before the fight begins, the men dance to the sounds of drums and gongs as the crowd, which normally consists of several thousand people, prepares for the battle. Then, two of the animals are lead to opposite sides of the grounds. Upon the first signal, the buffalo are directed to the fighting circle. When the second signal chimes, the animals are unleashed as the spectators yell and cheer. Butting heads, the buffalo can fight for varying amounts of time, depending on their strength.

Once the fight is complete, the winning animal will move on to the next round, until only one buffalo remains. The individual who owns the winning creature will receive 40 million dong, or almost $2,000. Typically, the men from the village of this prize buffalo will celebrate its victory for the rest of the evening, often bringing the creature along for the party. However, regardless of which animal wins or loses, each buffalo is killed and its meat is sold outside the stadium. Many people who buy the fresh meat believe that it will bring them good luck.

The entertaining part of the festival

The entertaining part of the festival is on the 9th day of the 8th lunar month in which a rich diversity of traditional activities enriching Vietnam’s national identity is carried out. First of all, 24 muscular young men line up into two rows, strongly and flexibly performing flag dance in the urgent sound of drums and cymbals. According to villages’ elders, the urgent and vibrant rhythm aims at creating a militant atmosphere in the arena, urging “Sir Buffalo” to fight more drastically. At about 8.00 am, after the opening sound of drums and gongs, the festival’s hosts called “Sir Buffaloes” to join the games and starts the battle. After that, two buffaloes are led into the arena from two opposite gates. As soon as they reach the Five Phoenix Flag and the signal of starting game ends, the two buffaloes immediately run into each other and start fighting. Each of these buffaloes use trained gimmickry to attack its enemy until one of them run out of the arena.

After many tensions and dramatic games, at the end of the day, the winning buffalo will be killed in a ceremony worshipping Water Goddess. According to local people, the village which owns the winning buffalo will have a new year full of good fortune and security. Especially, all fighting buffaloes are sacrificed towards Heaven and Earth in the hope of local people for a happy and wealthy life. Also, it is widely believed among villagers that eating the meat of festival participating buffaloes will bring them good lucks.

Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival

Overall, Buffalo Fighting Festival represents the unique spiritual life of Do Son’s vernacular people, contributing to create the unique lifestyle of this coastal area.

  • Time: 9th day of 8th month
  • Purpose: worship Water Goddess, express the chivalry sp
  • Activities:
    Buffaloes preparation
  • Spiritual rites: sacrificial ceremony towards Diem Tuoc God, Water Goddess worshipping ceremony, Tutelary God worshipping rite, buffalo sacrifice rite
  • Entertaining activities: buffalo fighting, traditional games and singings

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