I already wanted to go last year but couldn’t make it and wasn’t sure if I really wanted to see it. This year nevertheless gathering with some friends one who lives in Haiphong agreed to fizzle out the ticket problem and accompany me as well.
As the Buffalo Fight in Haiphong, actually in Do Son, is officially only held every year on the 9th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, I agreed to go and see for myself.
It turned out that I could luckily go into the VIP lounge with good sight, protected from rain – which poured down – and protected from the glistening sun, which turned out later.
Nearby where a bunch of photographers, some working for Vietnamese News Agencies, some amateurs and directors of local enterprises. What I learned was that the preparation for this festival is more than elaborate.
The buffaloes supposed to fight are carefully selected, well fed, and trained for a long time. These buffaloes are about four and five years old. The appearance is like follows: wide chest, big groin, long neck, and an acute bottom, not to forget bow shaped horns. These buffaloes are kept in separate cages to restrict them from contact with common buffaloes.
Early morning at 07:30 the worshipping ceremony started with drumming, young men dancing and waving flags. Than the buffalo fighting begun.
Buffaloes were led in pairs to opposite sides of the festival grounds and the handlers tried to bring them near two flags called Ngu Phung. When the fighting signal is released, the two buffaloes are moved to within 20m of each other. At the next signal, the two leaders release the ropes that are attached to the noses of the buffaloes. The two buffaloes then rush into each other with practiced movements. That’s the original setting but in reality it is mostly not done alike.
The buffaloes are brought in pairs but sometimes, at least one of them is so geared up that the handlers can’t hold him and have to release him earlier. Then the bulls are charging each other. The winning buffalo goes to the next round till the final winner emerges.
The spectators shout and urge the fighting along as well as the drummers who try to urge the bulls fighting on. After the completion of the fight, there is another spectacle following - catching the winning buffalo to grant it its reward. The Buffalo Fight is traditional a festival related to a Water God worshipping ceremony. And may be therefore it rained today very heavily.
Some of the animals seemed to flourish at the shouting. Showing off like human fighters they strutted through the ring before they charged. Some gave up very early and run – fight over. But nevertheless winner or looser even the champion has to give his life. He is slaughtered and his meat is sold – for a much higher price – if that might be a consolation.
So different countries, different cultures – who is it to judge?
Her some more scenes from the fighting which shows as well how cruel the fight can be.