Time: From the 15th to the 17th day of the eighth lunar month.
Place: Mausoleum of the Water General, Hung Thanh Hamlet, Can Thanh Commune, Can Gio District, Ho Chi Minh City.
Objects of worship: Ong Fish (The Whale).
Characteristics: The cult of the whale of the fishermen in the coastal areas. Traditional ritual of procession and sacrifice offering.
The festival of welcoming the Lord Whale or the cult of the Lord Whale is popular in many coastal localities from Ngang Pass to Ha Tien, Phu Quoc Island. This constitutes one of the biggest festivals of the fishermen. Different names are given to this festival: the procession of the Whale's skeleton, the ceremony of praying for fish, the sacrifice offering ceremony dedicated to the Whale, the festival of welcoming the Whale and so on. However it is believed that the Whale is holy sea creatures, the saviour of fishermen and those living in the sea in general. This traditional popular belief has been handed down from generation to generation of fishermen in many localities.
The tomb of the Water General, who King Tu Duc conferred the title of Nam Hai Tuong Quan (The General of the Sea), is the venue for the annual ceremony of the fishermen in Can Gio in remembrance of the Whale.
On the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, many cultural activities take place, stirring up the festive atmosphere.
At about 10 a.m. in the morning of the 16th day of the eighth lunar month, village dignitaries in traditional outfits carry out the procession of the palanquin of Nam Hai Tuong Quan to the sea. The fleet of dragon boats sets out at the Can Gio Wharf in Vung Tau. The fishermen and other people burn incense and present offerings in welcoming the fleet along its way to the sea. The dragon boat welcoming the Water General is accompanied by hundreds of boats of various sizes and decoration. An altar and a tray of offerings are put in the front of the dragon boat. It takes about two hours for the fleet to come back to the departure point. Then a procession of the Water General to his tomb is held. A group of lion and dragon dancers perform to welcome the procession.
The procession follows solemn rites in accordance with traditional rituals. Other cultural and artistic activities also take place inside and outside the Water General's tomb, even until late into the night.
From 8 a.m to 10 p.m on the 17th day of the eighth lunar month, a ceremony of reading the royal order of promotion of the Water General is held. This ceremony also features religious singing. This ritual also puts an end to the festival.
The festival in the tomb of the Water General is inspired with the sincere wishes of the fishermen for safety in service of their business and their gratitude and honour of the Holy Whale.