Water buffalo is more than once well-known as the symbol of Vietnam, a cultural land of the wet rice civilization. Under the space of modern life this honor animal little by little turn into a memory… but, it’s not that. Buffalo still keep doing well its mission in a land of nature, a land intact by the influence of modernity – Northwest Vietnam.
Water buffalo is always the best gift ever from the Mother of nature when it is so much useful in a daily basic life. In the rice field, water buffalo is an extreme “tool” to town the rice plough. In fact, in one hand the residents seems can’t afford a cultivator, on another hand this machine become useless with the specific geographic features of this mountainous area. Thus, we can all understand how important a buffalo is in a rural place where the agriculture plays the main role.
Furthermore, by a trekking tour in Sapa tourist can easily find out that a means of transport is not a very ideal thing with the poor condition of roads. In reality, paths and directs roads are nowhere to be found except for tough terrain in a sunny day and deep muddy ditches in a rainy day. Then buffalo again become a “life saver” who help to transport things or carry supplies from one village to another.
In addition, in the past when the wild animal were so savage that dare to attack cattle and domestic animal, alpha buffalo used to be a “guardian” for the whole family and the herd of cattle of the owner. As a matter of fact, in this upland region to judge someone people don’t look at the house or the assets but the buffalo. The more buffalo you own the richer you are judges, then people have to admit that the most valuable in a family is nothing different from a buffalo.
Besides, buffalo meat is famous for its unique flavor and high nutritious value in not only the cuisine of Vietnam but also Asia, probably the world. Therefore, water buffalo meat occupies such place in the art of culinary national and regional. Specifically, there are a Thai tribal’ signature dish called “dried buffalo meat” or “trau gac bep” in Vietnamese – a delicious hung kitchen specialty dish.
Unlike other region in the entire country, water buffalo play such a crucial role in life of people all around northwest Vietnam. Beside their help in a basis daily life, water buffalo appear as a spiritual animal and more than that. It’s a common belief that water buffalo is a representative for the lord of the agriculture as well as the Mother of nature. That’s the reason why you can find some annual ceremonies or festival in different tribal to approve the important role of this animal.
As example, once a year Thai people celebrate a day with three important ceremonies: one for the ancestor, another for god and the last one for the water buffalo. The ceremonies to approve the buffalo is a very ancient one with a lot of sincere and specific formality. The shaman will lead the ceremony by reading a traditional prayer for one after one, from the oldest to the youngest buffalo in the herd, then they will be fed the sacrifice…
Through this article, I can tell that no one will see a buffalo in the same way as before. And no one deny the colorful culture of Vietnamese people and the wet rice civilization. The more you search for a wonderful discovery in this country the more you will be impressed by what are waiting for you.