|The ceremony to honor the Hoang Sa soldiers is held by the tribes of Ly Son island district, in An Vinh communal house. Photo: Pham Cuong/VNA
The annual ritual reflects the history of defending Vietnam's territorial sovereignty in the East Sea.
According to historical records, the Hoang Sa Flotilla was set up in 17th century and obeyed the imperial court's orders to cross the sea on small fishing boats to establish sovereignty over the two archipelagos of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.
Under the King's orders, many Ly Son soldiers went out to Paracel and Spratly archipelagos to fish and plant landmarks. Many people died at sea and could not make their way back home. Before the soldiers left for their missions, a feast was held for them, hence the beginning of the tradition.
Maintained by the tribes on Ly Son island for more than 400 years, Feast and Commemoration Festival for Hoang Sa Soldiers was recognized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2013.