Vietnam is a Southeast Asian nation with 54 ethnic groups; being well-known for sea-green beaches, interlaced rivers insides big cities, Buddhist pagodas and bustling markets. Those are the iconic sights which are mentioned in most of the trips to Vietnam. However, there are few tourists, even the local residents knowing about “Love Market”- a once-a-year market for the minor villagers to meet their lovers whom they cannot get married for some personal reasons. The markets are held in Sapa and Ha Giang among some minorities such as Tay, Nung, Giay, etc. Let’s discover the unique custom only existing in Vietnam!
The origin of “Love market”
Khau Vai Love Market in Ha Giang (or Phong Luu market) that will be mentioned in this article was founded in 1919 and is opened up every year on March 27th in the lunar calendar.
It is told that Mr. Ba, who belongs to Nung tribe in Khau Vai, is handsome, good at singing and fluting but was born in a poor family. He loves Ms. Ut – the beautiful daughter of a rich Giay patriarch. Because of the poor-rich discrimination and the differences in cultures between the two tribes, they are not allowed to get married so that both of them leave home with each other to a mountain cave in Khau Vai, which results in the battle between two families. Witnessing the casualties of their beloved people, Nung and Ut have decided to break up and promise to get married in the next incarnation. On March 27th each year in lunar calendar – the day they broke up, they get together, sing and confide about their on-going life; then come back on the following day. The couple passed away on that day; therefore, the villagers have chosen March 27th to hold the love market.
Various activities in “Love Market”
Meeting the lovers
There are many couples coming to the market; after arriving at Khau Vai love market, the wife will find her ex-lover, and so do the husband. They are not jealous and frustrating, but honor each other, respecting their wife and husband’s friends. They consider that as sacred, a duty and responsibility for the spiritual life of their mate.
For the single, they also can drop in the market to find a lover. There are a lot of couples who admitted getting marriage thanks to the love market. The pan-pipe sounds, the singing, the groggy boys besides the bowls of corn wine and the girls in hued ethnic dresses have become the iconic sights in Khau Vai love market.
Attending the ceremony
The two main parts in the ceremony are: worshipping at the temples called Mieu Ong, Mieu Ba where honor Nung and Ut; and the festival to exchange the traditional and cultural activities such as carrying water with bamboo tube, climbing pole, tossing Còn (a ball made of fabric, rice and corn insides), blindfolding, throwing Pao (a silk ball), rafting, etc.
Besides remarkable culture, the tourists can savor local cuisine including mèn mén (made of smashed corn), goat’s hotpot, dried beef, smoked pork, ribs, corn wine, etc. which creates flavorful and unique food and drinks only in the mountainous areas of Vietnam.
Coming to Khau Vai Love Market in Ha Giang, the visitors will be amazingly overwhelmed by cultural beauties of the minorities that represent the various customs in different areas in Vietnam. Don’t hesitate to create your own tour with us!