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Ardent colours of bauhinia flowers symbolise victorious battle

Hoa ban (Bauhinia flower), known for its beautiful and delicate white petals, holds a special place in the hearts of many former soldiers from Điện Biên.

 

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Bauhinia flowers bloom abundantly throughout the mountains and forests of Điện Biên Province.

ĐIỆN BIÊN PHỦ CITY — Hoa ban (Bauhinia flower, or simply known as orchid tree flowers), known for its beautiful and delicate white petals, holds a special place in the hearts of many former soldiers from Điện Biên.

Amidst the chaos of war, with its bombs, bullets, smoke, and fire, this flower represents a vivid and poetic memory. Growing in the mountains and forests of the northwest, the bauhinia flower symbolises the rustic beauty of a Thái girl, adorned with a piêu scarf and a cóm shirt. It also embodies pure and faithful love between couples. However, few people are aware that this flower also carries a profound significance for the soldiers of Điện Biên Phủ, evoking memories of the glorious days of the Điện Biên Phủ Victory in 1954 – a triumph that marked the end of a century-long struggle against French colonial domination by the Vietnamese people.

The bauhinia flower invokes heroic memories, particularly during the month of March. Along the road leading to the Him Lam Resistance Centre Relic, one can witness the landscape adorned with white bauhinia flowers. The sight of these flowers recalls the spring of 1954, when soldiers hid under the canopies of bauhinia forests, awaiting the Ðiện Biên Phủ Campaign.

 

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Former soldier Bùi Kim Điều pays tribute to his comrades at the Him Lam Resistance Centre Relic by lighting incense

Bùi Kim Điều, a former soldier, slowly walks amidst the pure white blooms of the bauhinia flowers on the road to the Him Lam Resistance Centre Relic. Memories rush back to him as he observes the flowers blooming and fluttering in the sunlight. Pausing next to the mass grave at the entrance of the relic, Điều carefully lights incense sticks in honour of his fallen comrades.

During the Ðiện Biên Phủ Campaign, Điều served as a liaison officer, entrusted with the task of directly transmitting orders from the Political Commissar to units C405, E165, and F312. One battle that remains etched in his memory is the attack on Him Lam base – a stronghold considered by the French army to be an impregnable “steel door.”

At the age of 94, memories of the Ðiện Biên Phủ battlefield remain vivid in Điều’s mind.

“Even now, I can visualise and sketch the entire Điện Biên Phủ basin from that day. It’s as clear in my mind as the palm of my hand. My comrades and I fought and emerged victorious from Him Lam Hill to A1 Hill, ultimately reaching General Christian de Castries’ trench,” Điều reminisces.

In the midst of those arduous and fierce days, the presence of the bauhinia flowers served as a cherished memory for this veteran soldier.

 

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Whenever the bauhinia flowers bloom, they evoke memories of the Ðiện Biên Phủ Campaign in people’s minds.

“I can still recall that during the intense war, many hills on the battlefield of Điện Biên Phủ were adorned with white bauhinia flowers. Every time we caught sight of them, we were astounded. The most memorable experience was during our march to Điện Biên, passing through Pha Đin Pass, where the flowers descended upon us, and we picked them, adorning our chest pockets, backpacks, and gun barrels. Only later, upon hearing from the locals, did I come to know that they were bauhinia flowers,” Điều reveals.

Like Điều, Nguyễn Hữu Chấp’s mind is flooded with war-time memories every time the bauhinia flowers bloom. Chấp served as the squad leader of the 82mm mortar squad in Company 290, Battalion 166, Regiment 209, Brigade 312.

 

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Vietnamese soldiers launched an attack on a fortified position at Him Lam.

Chấp shares, “The Him Lam base group was deemed an invincible ‘steel door’ by the French army. With a troop strength of up to 750 soldiers, the French army constructed fortresses on three hills to establish a formidable foothold, equipped with modern weaponry and a network of sturdy bunkers. To emerge victorious, we fought with unwavering determination.”

“We were steadfast in our resolve to protect this land fully, safeguard the peaceful lives of the people, and preserve the pristine beauty of the flower-filled forests. Today, it fills me with immense joy to witness the excitement that accompanies the traditional festivals held during the blooming season of the Bauhinia flowers. It is a testament that our sacrifices and efforts have been rewarded,” Chấp concludes.

Unique beauty

Điện Biên Phủ City is currently bustling with preparations for the Bauhinia Flower Festival, an annual event held in the middle of March. This festival is closely tied to the opening battle of the Điện Biên Phủ Campaign and coincides with the blooming of the bauhinia flowers.

A visit to Điện Biên Phủ during this time allows visitors to not only explore the remnants of the old battlefield but also to witness and be enchanted by the pristine beauty of the flowers that grace the mountains and forests of the northwest region.

Over the course of 70 seasons, the bauhinia flowers have continued to bloom on the old battlefield, transforming the landscape day by day. Yet, the echoes of victory never cease to reverberate, particularly when the white petals of the bauhinia flowers illuminate the mountainsides and deep valleys. It is during this time that the festival season commences, filling the hearts of the local people with joy and pride as they participate in the festivities and celebrate their heroic land.

 

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The Him Lam Resistance Centre Relic is associated with the opening fight of the Ðiện Biên Phủ Campaign.

Is it a mere coincidence that a flower native to the mountains and forests is intertwined with one of the greatest victories in the nation’s history? The resilient and vibrant bauhinia tree, enduring bombs, sun, and wind, played a role in protecting Vietnamese soldiers, artillery, and tanks. In the midst of the untamed mountains and forests, many reconnaissance soldiers even used bauhinia flowers to mark their paths, ensuring they wouldn’t get lost.

In the Mường Phăng Forest, where the Điện Biên Phủ Campaign Headquarters once stood, bauhinia flowers bloom amidst the towering trees. This land witnessed 56 days and nights of bloodshed, fire, and bombardment that left devastation in their wake.

Mường Thanh Valley became the fiercest battlefield in the history of the resistance war against the French colonialists. Yet, amidst it all, the bauhinia trees emerged as a symbol of resilience and life, still blooming. Thus, the people of Điện Biên Province take great pride in naming their festival after these forest flowers.

 

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The pristine beauty of bauhinia flowers on the Ðiện Biên Phủ battlefield memorial.

Today, bauhinia flowers can be found in many provinces and cities across the country, even adorning the capital city of Hà Nội. However, in Điện Biên, these flowers possess a unique beauty of their own. Every March, the bauhinia flowers surprise visitors with their breathtaking splendor. Despite the early bloom caused by the hot weather this year, tourists continue to flock to this land because they yearn to witness this flower embellishing the heroic historical site.

The people of Điện Biên hold the bauhinia flowers in high regard, just as they cherish the victory of Điện Biên Phủ. As a result, this flower has become a symbol, and the Bauhinia Flower Festival serves as an invitation for tourists from all corners of the world to visit the province every March.

Theo Vietnamnews

 

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Every March, bauhinia flowers always surprise visitors with their breathtaking beauty.