Le Mat is a small village at Viet Hung Ward, Long Bien District, about 7 kilometers away from Hanoi, which is famous for its tradition of catching snakes and making delicious food from them.
Once upon a time in the early days of Hanoi as the capital, legends have it that a princess while taking a boat cruise in the river was attacked by a giant snake. A young peasant living by the river slain the giant snake to rescue the princess. The King, as a result, granted him a great fortune and a tiny land which is now the Le Mat village. The village was named after the name of the peasant. Later, the peasant was glorified into the village god. Every year from then, the villagers celebrate a festival in the third month of Lunar Calendar to remember their forefather.
Activities in Le Mat Festival
Le Mat Festival usually takes place from the 20th day to the 24th day of the third lunar month, with the main festival day on the 23rd.
At the early morning of this day, representative ancestors of the 13 camps at the old land near Thang Long in the past bring 13 trays of offerings from the capital to Le Mat village. A water procession marks the festival’s start, in which water is taken from the pond, poured into a big porcelain jar, put on a palanquin and brought to the temple. A big fish caught from the mentioned pond and covered in red cloth is used as offering for the tutelary god. When ceremonies are over, the scene when the young man killed the huge and save the princess is represented among the vibrant sounds of drums. The highlight of the festival is a snake dance which always gathers a big crowd. There are also competitions on snake beauty, snake feeding, snake caring and all.
Most of the tourists come down here for a taste of snake meat. There are nearly 10 dishes to try: snake soup, snake meat softly fried, rolling fried, solid fried snake skin, meat covered leaves, snake heart,… This really is a once in a lifetime experience!