Once a year in Yen Vinh, Hung Yen Province a grand three-day festival is held at a temple by the banks of the Red River to worship the god Chu Dong Tu and his two wives, Tien Dung and Tay Sa. During the festival, three area villages converge on the main temple complex to participate in the ritual offerings, folk games, ca tru singing, and other events.On the second day of the festival, a water procession takes place on the Red River that mimics the Princess Tien Dung’s fated river journey in which she encountered the poor fisherman Chu Dong Tu hiding in the sand. During the procession, in an elaborate ritual conducted by the elders of the participating villages, water is poured into a porcelain jar. This sacred water will be used in temple rituals throughout the year.
This film documents the Chu Dong Tu festival of 2007. The festival was revived in 1986, the year in which the economic and political reforms were passed in Vietnam. The festival is an important example of the widespread revival of traditional folk festivals that has followed reform.
Dr. Jhala is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Temple University, where he serves as the Director of the Visual Anthropology Media Lab and the Director of the Graduate and Undergraduate tracks in Visual Anthropology. He has been involved in interpreting culture on film and video since the 1970s. He received his B.A. in English Literature (1968) at St. Stephens College in Delhi, India, an M.V.S. (1983) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his Ph.D. (1991) from Harvard University.