The Lim festival, opening on January 13th (lunar year), is the leading Quan Ho song festival as many famous Quan Ho Song villages in the area take part in it.
Speaking of Lim festival is dealing with Love Duets which annual happens from 13th to 15th of 1 lunar month at Noi Due, Tien Son, Bac Ninh (30km distance from the North of HaNoi). Lim pagoda lying on red-soil Lim hill is very large and airy with a lot of eucalyptus and couch trees and is a place worshipping Bodhisattva kwan Yin, Van Tuong pagoda is a place of offerings of village elders. Inside, Buddhist priests hold are mony, outside, Buddhist nuns recite the Buddhist scriptures and sing the oldest Love Duets. People here though are farmers and craftsmen like people in other villages, they like singing and they have created a kind of original art which is Love Duets. This is a kind of repartee singing between men and women. From these singing events, many have failed in love and became couples. They' often sing lyrics with pianissimo, ligature melody and a lot of refrains to sing the praise of the heartfelt emotion of human, sing the praise of love, loyalty, friendship and country.
During festival, young men and women from other villages come to Lim hill, Lim pagoda together to sing. They are called brothers and sisters groups. Most village people can sing since small. Growing, they have more chance to meet and sing to each other. Even become elders, they still sing. The artists in Love Duets villages are those who have beautiful singing voice and master hundreds of Love Duets tunes. In many places, people sing Love Duets inside, on the hill and on boats. In order to welcome singing partners visiting and taking part in village festival, people sing inside. Hosts and hostesses welcome guests in early morning of the day occurring festival, lead them to pagoda to kowtow Buddha then come back home. Love Duets singing events take place familiarly, naturally as soon as guest comes in singing greeting new year. They sing greeting, inviting betels, missing friends, exchanging emotion and repartee tunes. Then they sing to part with each other and promise to see in next years festival.
No one knows when Love Duets event start taking place, just see men hold umbrellas and women wear flat palm hat with fingures, dressy in lots of clothing. They meet and invite each other by songs in which they show happiness as they meet again. Love Duets rouse great love in the hearts of brothers and sisters. That is the great love of traditional songs of their country, of green fields, rivers, hills and mountains, moss-grown communal house of village rising up in singers and listeners hearts noble and inviolable sentiments.
During singing session, one part sings ahead. The latter will sing in contrast a song which is of tunes the same or nearly the same as the former's. Singers can sing about anything as village gate, communal well, cloud, flowers, butterflies, small bamboo trees, banian trees, conical hats, umbrellas, sedge mats... and they sing passionately. Brothers and sisters will sing all a watch, no the superior, no the inferior. Each has their ovon grace and charms. Normally, each singer can sing nearly 200 Love Duets tunes and they can sing from dusk up to tomorrow early dawn.
Young men and women who want to find their partners often come up hill to sing. There men hold umbrellas while women are wearing flat palm hats, no care of sunny or rainy weather. They even can sing all night to show their love sometimes ebullient passionate, sometimes graceful and be fervent with amorousness.When singing on boats, each pair of men and women sit on a coracle on village pond. Village peoplegather tightly at the edge of the pond. Which pairs sing beautifully and be loved will get cash bonus, which is called "Wishes money" and be packed in a red paper, from audiences throwing down.
There are about 500 Love Duets songs, but people just sing beloved songs. Art groups and creating artists consider these a varied, plentiful supplementary subject sources. The vitality of Love Duets is very durable. They are handed down from the former generation to the latter generation and they are heartily welcomed every where. When watching Love Duets singing, audiences not only be passionately deep in enjoying the voice of singers, but also watch their appearance and clothes.
49 Love Duets villages observe New Year's Day on 12th of 1st lunar month every year. They pack "Chung" cake (square glutinous rice cake) on these days and prepare for the festival on the next day singing Love Duets to Bac Ninh people in particular and to Vietnamese as a whole is considered immarterial cultural value which is needed to be maintained and preserved. Love Duets to composers or nationalists, is an interesting and attractive studied subject and needed to be surveyed and exploited more deeply.