|A Dum singing competition in Thuy Nguyen district, Hai Phong city
On the second day of the new lunar year, Tong Phuc festival began with many exciting folk games including tug of war, swing game, and boat racing. The most anticipated event at the festival is probably Dum singing. It is said that Dum singing began with a traditional custom of people in Thuy Nguyen that women were supposed to keep their faces covered with a veil at all times. Hat Dum is associated with the moment the girls uncover their faces at a festival. On this day, the village boys and girls gather at the communal house of the village where they sing love songs to each other.
"Girls no longer wear veils today but my sister, who is 5 years older than me, still practices this tradition as she always keeps her veil on. Many young men and women became husband and wife thanks to Dum singing. Dum songs include lullabies for our kids, those for greeting to each other and when we part away," said Dinh Thi Hoat who lives in Thuy Nguyen district’s Lap Le commune.
|A big audience enjoys a Dum singing performance
There is no music instruments accompanied Dum singing and no special costumes are required for the boys and girls when they sing Dum songs. The lyrics are all about their thoughts and experiences in their daily life.
"We used to sing for fun at beautiful places by the river or under the shade of trees. Today we sing on stage as more and more professional competitions of Dum singing have been organized by the local authorities. Competitors would sing in duet and if someone cannot sing in response, he or she will lose the game. An artisan on Dum singing is supposed to be able to sing many versions of Dum songs in many different ways," said Dinh Nhu Hang, who has learned by heart around 150 Dum songs and is head of a Dum singing club in Lap Le commune, Thuy Nguyen district.
It’s said that many people who were born in Tong Phuc but are now living away from home often ask their relatives to record Dum songs at annual spring festivals for them to help ease their homesickness. Phung Van Manh, Director of Thuy Nguyen District’s Center of Culture and Information, told VOV: "For three communes of Phuc Le, Pha Le, and Lap Le, Dum singing has become an inseparable part of the local people’s life. Most of them come to the spring festivals just to listen to Dum songs. Duet performances of Dum singing can last for many hours or even days."