This special event is held annually, from the late evening of the third Lunar month's 26th day and lasts until the end of next day in Khau Vai Commune, Meo Vac District in the northern most province of Vietnam, Ha Giang.
Unlike any other markets, Khau Vai Love Market is extraordinary and remarkable because the people coming here do not sell or buy any goods. Instead, it is the dating place for ex-lovers who fell in love but could not have a marriage.
Khau Vai Love Market Festival is legendarily originated from a sad love story: A couple from different tribes deeply fell in love with each other; however, their marriage was forbidden by the girl’s tribe while the boy’s tribe wanted her to be one bride of theirs. A violent conflict later on was occurred between two tribes and caused blood shedding for both of them. To stop the nonsense and fierce battles, the couple decided to fall apart with broken hearts. Still, they promised to see each other once a year on lunar March 26th in Khau Vai. Since then, on every Khau Vai Love Market Festival emerges as an occasion for couples of different ages who used to love but could not get married to come and meet each other again. About a century has passed by; still, the festival remains and makes its main claims for a humanity meaning.
On the event, spouses can go to the market together but individually seek their own partners for sharing their innermost feelings. If the wife or the husband cannot go to the market, she or he will not angry or be jealous because the meeting at the market is just only a temporary feeling and cannot influent their normal life. The market also attracts those who excitedly want to find a partner for the first time. This northern love market with unforgettable emotions of its participants has been become a symbol of love and romance.
Khau Vai Love Market Festival is a unique tradition of the northern areas with special and interesting activities. The first day is for the villagers’ ceremony of receiving the great calendar to forecast of rainfall and foresee the crop of that year. This official ceremony is carried out inside the sanctuary where all participants pray for a good yield. Then, young males and females can walk out the pagoda yard and join in fun activities. The second day is devoted for the ceremony of boiling rice and heaping up a sandy mountain for search of happiness and luck. The last ceremony is to wash the Buddha’s statue and Buddhist monks.
This famous festival attracts many local ethnic groups living near and far like Nung, Giay, Mung. Attending the event, tourists have invaluable chances to witness northern mountainous minority’s culture and tradition, including foods and drinks, folk dances performances and games. Also, they can feel experience the power and beauty of love as well as the romance and strong emotions of ex-lovers which is the key factor creating and maintaining this unique market.
TIME: 26th and 27th day of the 3rd lunar month
PURPOSE: for ex-lovers to meet again and recall old memories
Rituals: great calendar receiving, praying, Buddha’s statue cleaning
Entertaining activities: enjoying local foods and drinks, dancing, playing traditional games