The Ma Coong Drum Beating Festival is a distinctive and exceptional festival that takes place in Quang Binh province. It is celebrated annually on the 16th day of the first lunar month in Ca Roong village, located in Thuong Trach commune, Bo Trach district. This festival is particularly special as it is held in the homeland of the Ma Coong ethnic group.


Legend of Ma Coong Drum Beating Festival

According to the legend of the Ma Coong people, an evil yellow monkey appeared in the land where the Ma Coong people reside. In the evening, the monkey would enter the fields and destroy the crops, leading to continuous crop failures, famine, and illness. The Ma Coong people tried various ways to chase away the monkey but to no avail. One night, a village elder had a dream in which Giang (heaven) appeared and provided a solution to chase the monkey away. The elder was advised to create a drum with a real echo and beat it on the brightest moonlit night when the monkey came to destroy the crops. The Ma Coong men promptly made a beautiful drum with a loud and echoing sound that reached deep into the heart of the Truong Son mountain range. On the night of the 16th full moon, the villagers waited for the monkey's arrival and young people took turns playing the drum. The sound of the drum frightened the evil monkey, and it fled the land, never to return.

To honor their ancestors and show gratitude to Giang, the Ma Coong people selected and arranged unique delicacies for a grand worship ceremony.

Events of the Ma Coong Drum Beating Festival

The Ma Coong Drum Beating Festival has 2 parts: the ceremony part and the festival part.

The Ceremony Part

The villagers worship their gods in the main house of a row of cottages located on the largest yard of the village. Once all the preparations are done, everyone waits for the moon to rise. As soon as the moon appears over the mountains, the trays are brought out and arranged neatly at the offering place for Giang.

When the moon rises, it's time to begin the ceremony in Ca Roong village. The village elder will read a prayer asking the gods to bless the village with peace, good health for children, smooth business, and a bountiful harvest. After the ceremony, rice is harvested and thrown in all four directions as a symbol of hope for a plentiful crop. This also signals the end of the ceremony.

The Festival Part

Banging drums: This is the main activity of the festival. Everyone, from young to old, girls and boys, participate in beating the drums. The sound of drums echoed throughout the mountains and forests, creating a bustling and vibrant atmosphere.

The drums used by the Ma Coong people are not like regular drums. They are made from the hollow trunk of a special tree called the genus cup, which is a medicinal plant that grows deep in the forest and can be used year after year. The drum's surface is covered with buffalo skin, making it very strong. During festivals, the drums are tied together with rattan ropes and tightened with bamboo wedges, which gives them a unique shape that looks like a "spiky ball". The sound of the drum is spiritual and magical, like the voice of the Ma Coong people in the middle of the forest, unaffected by wind, rain, wild animals,…


The drum must be beaten until it breaks before dawn. Then, both heaven and earth will testify to everyone's sincerity, and there will be a good harvest in the coming year. While beating the drums, the young men shouted in the forest: "Roa lu Giang oi!" (which means "So happy, so happy, oh my god!"). The sooner the drums break, the sooner the young men can lead their partners into the forest of love.

In this tradition, couples who have secretly admired each other for a long time are allowed to take each other to a secluded location, such as a stream or forest, to confide in each other. However, they must return home before the rooster crows to resume their daily lives and await next year's festival. Some couples make a promise to each other and choose a day to invite their parents and village elders to perform a betel and areca ceremony to officially tie the knot. During the festival, only old people, middle-aged people, and children gather around the fire or sip wine. As the fire slowly dies down and the sun rises on the other side of the mountain, the Ma Coong People's Drum Festival comes to an end.

Cultural value of the Festival

The Ma Coong drum beating festival is a distinctive cultural feature that expresses the unique identity of the Ma Coong ethnic group. These festivals are not only for entertainment and enjoyment, but also serve as an opportunity for people to preserve and promote their cultural traditions.

On August 27, 2019, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism issued Decision No. 2968 and 2971/QD-BVHTTDL, announcing the National Intangible Cultural Heritage List for the Drum Festival of the Ma-Coong people in Thuong Trach commune, Bo Trach district.

The Ma Coong Drum Beating Festival is an attractive destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. If you have the opportunity to visit Quang Binh, be sure to attend the festival and experience this unique culture.