Phuoc Hai is a fishing village in the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau. Oasis of calm most of the year, the small village dresses to impress once a year on the occasion of the whale festival, a spiritual and cultural celebration to thank the sea for providing for their needs and show their respect and gratitude towards Nam Hải, a whale god.
Whale worshipping is an ancient tradition anchored in the deep seas of fishermen’s journeys. According to local tales and legends, fishermen would witness whales riding along their boats, offering them guidance and protection at sea. From small offerings and intimate prayers, the practice of honoring whales slowly turned to more established and elaborated celebrations; and whale temples flourished along the Vietnamese coast. Nowadays, it remains an important part of coastal fishing communities’ culture and identity.