Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ninh Giang earthen crackers

Visit to any hamlet in Ninh Giang (Hải Dương province) is a good opportunity to see traditional contest of earthen crackers organized on Sundays after Tết holidays. And the locals feel very excited to ready themselves for the event, it’s not because of the prize but of their age-long tradition. Earthen crackers are made of special soil carefully processed, they pound the soil to be fine and make square blocks and on the eventful day, young girls bring the soil to the contest-ground.

On the day, the whole villagers attend and the contestants (of all ages) are very skilful, strong and patient. Crackers are varied depending on the weight, but the least weighty must be 10kgs and the most one is 50kgs in different shapes. The finished cracker looks like a boat and the frame is round and large as a bike-tire. The decisive factor in how to drop. Competitors have to unanimously raise the cracker high in the cheers of spectators and precisely, all drop it down how to let it fall on the ground flatly. If it’s too soft, the crackers will get deformed and if it’s too high, it will broak. The winner is decided by the explosion, resounding and echoing. So to get the soil ready plays an important part in the event, just a minor mistake, it will spoil the cracker.

At final round, the champions are privileged to drop the last cracker and the winner will be dressed with a red coat and upheld high by attendants, then everybody tries to tear his shirt, just to take a piece as a lucky sign for the New year.

Don’t hesitate to come and see how the locals get excited for the event and why the game lives long with the tradition.

                                                           THANH HƯƠNG

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