The highlight of the Marian Days celebration at the Christ Cathedral campus was a liturgical dance performed at the base of Our Lady of La Vang shrine in front of a gathering of thousands of worshipers.
YOUNG DANCERS FROM THROUGHOUT THE VIETNAMESE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY DO A SPECIAL DANCE ON JULY 2 IN FRONT OF THE OUR LADY OF LA VANG SHRINE AT CHRIST CATHEDRAL CAMPUS. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSHUA SUDOCK/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
Performed as an expression of adoration and gratitude for the Virgin Mary, the traditional Vietnamese dance featured more than 200 dancers adorned in vibrantly colored silk tunics with pants, called ao dai, with each color symbolizing love for Mary in its own unique way, said Julianne Nguyen, the organizer of the dance group.
Large and small drums, typically reserved for big events and celebrations, were played. Girls, some as young as 8 years old, walked in a procession carrying bouquets of freshly cut flowers, commonly associated with Mary.
Adults walked behind the children as a show of support.
Some performers wore red, signifying love. Others wore blue and white, colors synonymous with Mary.
“The entire dance is meant to glorify Mary,” Nguyen said.
The dancers were selected from seven Vietnamese churches around the county, Nguyen said, and most have experience performing liturgical dances at their own churches.
Jason Bui, 22, a parishioner at Christ Cathedral, played one of the large drums.
Bui wanted to perform in the dance to do his part for the church and honor Vietnamese Catholic tradition.
“To be a part of it, you feel very holy and wholesome,” Bui said. “And it’s all about the community. And you get to worship Jesus and venerate Mary.”
The performers spent several hours practicing before Marian Days, Bui said.
“There are many different events,” he said. “Big or small, we always try to do our best.”
Sophia Nguyen, 10, said performing in such a large event was “exciting.”
“I was happy that I was helping out the church,” Sophia said. “It’s really fun. I get to talk to my friends, and I really like doing the dances.”
Cindy Tran, who leads Our Lady of La Vang parish’s Vietnamese language school in Santa Ana, was responsible for organizing the drummers and the girls carrying the bouquets.
Tran said she enjoys partnering with other churches to prepare for large events such as Marian Days.
A PERFORMER POSES WITH MARIAN DAYS VISITORS ON SATURDAY, JULY 2. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOSHUA SUDOCK/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
“Hopefully, this is something we’ll do every year, just to highlight the culture and to honor Mary,” said Tran, who is also a U.S. Navy veteran. “We just feel that we are fortunate to have our family and jobs and that we grew up here. We just want to give back and build a better community.”
Steven Nguyen, 9, of Garden Grove, said practicing for the performance was a bit challenging due to the enormous number of dances and the massive size of the event itself.
But Steven also said that dancing for Mary was “quite an honor.”
“It was fun to help her,” he said. “So many churches dancing in one group to dance for Mary.”
Dancer Kevin Duong, 25, of Huntington Beach, said he was grateful to be part of the first ever Marian Days celebration at Christ Cathedral.
CHILDREN PERFORM A LITURGICAL DANCE PRIOR TO MASS AT THE OUR LADY OF LA VANG SHRINE ON SATURDAY, JULY 2. PHOTO COURTESY OF STEVEN GEORGES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
“I love to have the opportunity to come and pay tribute to Mary,” said Duong, who is the former president of the Vietnamese of Eucharistic Youth Movement. “It’s a great way for everyone to come together, learn about Vietnamese culture and honor Mary and have fun. I think I’m still absorbing how big an event it really is.”